Establishing your Canadian business on Social Media will offer you free marketing in the long run
As mentioned in a previous article, the rise of e-commerce is offering real opportunities for Canadian retailers to expand their business and to maximize their profits and commercial reach.
One specific aspect of doing aspect on the Internet that was only briefly mentioned, that is, social media. Though social media is still growing, the advantages it offers to small and medium businesses are still untapped, especially here in Canada.
Canadians are very active on social networks. Half of Canadians are on Social Networks, which makes 17 million of us. 50% of online Canadians visited Social Networks at least once a week, while 25% claimed to be interacting with social media at least once a day. These Canadians are more connected than ever before. Many of these users are of a younger demographic: 86% of Canadians between the ages of 18-34 are on social media, and 40% of Canadians over the age of 55 are now actively participating in social media. The social media giant in Canada is by far Facebook: 86% of all online Canadians are on Facebook. These numbers are already impressive enough as they are, but there is still vast potential for further growth. The benefits for Canadian businesses are still untapped: only 60% of Canadian businesses use social media for marketing. Besides offering a large audience, social media is also a great tool for Canadian businesses because it is very cheap and extremely customizable. A Facebook or Twitter account is easy to set up, and can be run by just one person, if necessary. Furthermore, social networking allows companies to have closer interactions with their clients.
Since Canadians are logging onto social networks with a greater frequency, the chances of your social media messages have a greater chance of reaching them, regardless of where they are. Moreover, the brevity of social media interaction allows clients to have repeated interactions with your company on a daily basis without a sense of repetitiveness. Personalized and user-friendly content that directly address the customer, such as simple polls or amusing news snippets related to your company or industry, can endear your company to your clients in ways that glitzy and loud print or television advertisements cannot. As much as 48% of Canadians connect in some way with at least one brand or company through either Facebook or Twitter, and the average user has about 6 connections. While it might not seem like much, social sharing adds up: as much as 60% of Facebook users who become fans of a brand are more likely to recommend it to a friend later. Facebook users are especially active: the average user has 130 friends, and is connected on average to about 80 pages, events or groups. They say that the keyword in marketing in the information age is “going viral”. This type of exponential word-of-mouth advertising is a boon for small and medium businesses that do not have the large advertising budgets of big corporations.
Some companies have already taken advantage of social media, and some rather successfully: the 5 largest brands on Facebook in Canada are the retailing chain Spencer’s, with 1.5 million Facebook users; the liquor brand Crown Royal, with 1 million users, and Telus, Volkswagen Canada and AIRMILES Canada round up the top five with about 700-600 thousand users. Since social marketing exists as a long-term, sustained marketing tool, direct sales figures deriving from social media marketing are hard to calculate. However, there are indirect way of measuring the impact of social media on sales: in the United States, for example, a 2011 study by the National Restaurant Association confirms that consumers who use social media are not only more likely to dine out, but also to become repeat customers
The growing audience for social media advertising is a force to be reckoned with. Savvy small and medium businesses could benefit from social media’s broad reach to level the playing field against big corporations. By taking advantage of the sort of intimacy that comes from social media interactions, small and medium enterprises could establish a new paradigm of friendly, customer-oriented consumer experience.