As an online business, obviously we are aware of the benefits of running a business online such as the ease of working from home if necessary (although the coffee in the office tastes better!) and the lower overheads (more funds for that Christmas party!). However, online is also important for bricks and mortar businesses who can’t ignore the online revolution. In fact, experts believe that the web is doubling in power every year!
With social media platforms such Facebook (like us here!) and Twitter (follow us here!) all growing – nobody had heard of them 5 years ago, and now social media updates and recommendations are even being integrated into Google search results; social media is also becoming hugely important for the promotion of small businesses online.
Online offers an enormous amount of marketing and advertising opportunity for small businesses and most importantly it’s extremely cost effective.
For instance, Google’s Analytics tool for tracking and analysing traffic on your site is really easy to install and completely free. It’s also considered the most comprehensive web analytics tool available so at least SME owners know they’re not using below par tools. Both Twitter and Facebook are free and extremely easy to set up and maintain. Additional tools, such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck and Involver are also free and can help add extra dimensions to your online social media presence.
To give you some examples of how important online is becoming for businesses and especially for franchises FranchiseHelp.com conducted a study of the best performing franchise businesses on Facebook. Needless to say the most popular franchises, all of them food franchises, came out top – McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Subway etc. The rankings were based on not only the amount of “likes” on each page, but also the amount of new “likes” each month and the amount of interactivity between the franchise and the users on the page. Surprisingly Taco Bell, although not top of the list for number of likes or even monthly like growth can top of the list for interactivity; the franchise must be doing something right when it comes to engaging their customers.
So what is the value for all of this? Every time a user likes a status update or comments on an update or even posts on a page, it shows up in their own “activity feed” which can be seen by all of their friends – so if one person with 300 friends on Facebook likes your status, this can be seen by a possible 300 more people.
Other research suggests that UK digital spend is about 24% of total media spend, so advertising and marketing teams clearly see online advertising as a very viable channel for engaging your target consumer – in fact social media offers the business owner the golden opportunity to engage directly with the customer on a very public platform and also encourage customers to recommend their product or service to their peer group on the social media network.