While there will always be a place for print marketing, growing numbers of small business owners are looking to social media to build their own communities.
Laura Odenwald, owner of Odenwald Strategies and guest speaker of the Chamber's Jan. 22 Lunch & Learn, profiled social media trends for business owners to watch. Odenwald is a marketing consultant for businesses and non-profits.
"Personalization and local targeting will grow in importance for advertising," Odenwald said. "Social media platforms keep track of user data and information. While I personally don't like this, from a business prospective, you can use it to your advantage.” As an example, she said Imperial Furniture could implement a Facebook ad that targets people who recently moved to the area.
Odenwald predicted in 2020 there will also be less emphasis on vanity metrics and removal of "like" buttons, as social media platforms encourage people to share their comments. Business owners will want to follow this trend by encouraging people to comment on their posts, ask questions and get a conversation going.
To better engage a community, video content continues to grow and dominate social media. "While video can seem intimidating because we think it has to be perfect, it is going to become greater in importance.” Odenwald suggested business owners shoot video behind the scenes to engage customers in another aspect of their promotion or sale.
Shopping within social media platforms will expand, as will the increased use of social media for customer service. “Many of you have probably already experienced this, whereby a person sends you a question or shares a concern with you on-line. As the younger generation becomes consumers, this will increase, along with private messaging from consumers to their favorite brands and companies.”
“Along with this, Facebook groups and other online communities will continue to grow,” Odenwald said. She advised business owners to capitalize on this, by creating their own on-line business community, which also serves to make their customers feel special.
As business owners strengthen their relationship with customers, Odenwald said they can then encourage user-generated content, such as costumer recommendations or testimonials. Chamber members and realtors Martha Hassle and Shelly Myers-Henry, who attended Lunch & Learn, often share customer testimonials to their Cressy & Everett page.
“Authenticity and trust will remain important,” Odenwald said. “The younger generation is a lot more savvy with social media. They can tell when something is fake.” Odenwald said while you can have a person post something on social media for you to influence your customer base, you should make sure they are transparent and authentic.
While social media is encouraging more paid advertising, as it makes it harder for business owners to get organic or free reach on their posts, it remains relatively inexpensive. Odenwald encouraged business owners to budget $100 to $200 each month for social media advertising and to boost their posts. She also encouraged them to design an ad for a specific purpose, whether it is to boost in-store foot traffic or to sign up for an email list.