Unless your company has a huge marketing budget, social media is likely the first place you turn to reach customers. Indeed, according to a study released this week by LinkedIn, an overwhelming proportion of small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are using social media to market to customers, grow their audience, and derive business insights.
The study, based on interviews with more than 1,000 SMBs that use LinkedIn's services, was aimed at finding new insights about companies' activity on social media and best practices on the professional networking site.
Conducted last November, the study found that 81 percent of the SMBs use social media to drive business growth, while a whopping 94 percent use it for marketing. Additionally, the study found that social media provides SMBs with a solution for their number one challenge: finding new customers. Of those surveyed, 64 percent stated that finding new customers was their greatest concern.
Lana Khavinson, Group Product Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, stressed that the first step toward getting good results from LinkedIn is to build out a strong, robust profile for your brand.
"Those that are very successful are using personal and company profiles to showcase their brands, and also post to engage with the network through those updates," she says. "That allows you to build this really rich conversation with your network, and then also get that viral reach that every small business is hoping to achieve."
About half of the SMBs surveyed use social media for learning. Nearly 80 percent said that industry-specific news is the most valuable type of content on social media, while 74 percent said that testimonials and customer opinions is the second-most valuable type.
"Successful small businesses are also tapping into groups," Khavinson tells Inc. "Not only are they learning from the individuals in the groups but they are also able to share their expertise and position themselves in a way that brings interest and attention to their business."
Khavinson suggests that companies pay attention to what a few key influencers in their industry are sharing on the network to see how they can apply it to their business. It's also a good idea to follow other companies in the same industry to keep tabs on what competitors are doing, she says.