The local newspaper in my city recently ran a “Best of 2011” feature, revealing readers’ favorite restaurants, bars, boutiques, retail stores, etc. Living in a somewhat touristy town where small businesses are constantly vying for tourist dollars, these types of features have a direct impact on their bottom line.
The interesting part about the story was that this year they decided to not only announce the winners (based on percentage of votes), but they included a breakdown of how the votes were distributed. The results were very revealing and showed exactly why small businesses need to invest in some form of social media.
In the majority of categories, there wasn’t a dominant winner. In fact, most winners won with around 15-25% of the votes, with the Other category receiving the majority.
With so many different options to vote for, it makes sense that there wouldn’t be a single standout winner. However, this does highlight the importance of social media and how it could have been leveraged by small businesses to win this contest.
Realizing what the title of voted Best Whatever in 2011 could mean for their business, a savvy owner with a social media network in place would have simply had to send out a Tweet, Facebook message, or email to their subscribers asking for their loyal customers to please vote for them in the upcoming poll.
Given how spread out the votes were, this little push from a loyal customer base could have been enough to grab the title and pronounce them King of their industry for the year. This is exactly how the upfront effort of setting up any kind of social media interaction has direct payoffs in the real world.
So, while you may think that having a Facebook page for your burger joint is a waste of time, the competition – whose food and service is worse than yours – is boasting that they’re the best in the business and stealing your customers because they’re actively using social media to reach out to their customers or community.
A social media strategy shouldn’t become the sole focal point of your marketing and advertising efforts, but it’s definitely worth your while to think up some simple giveaways or discounts to entice your customers to follow you on your chosen social media stream.
Remember, if you do go this route, you have to engage your customer base regularly and offer them value to keep them interested in being on your lists. It would be bad business, after all, to offer them nothing and then count on them for support when something like this contest rolls around.