Do Not Just Use Social Media, Make Your Business Social

Branding & marketing has always been two of the most essential components for the growth of any business. Since ages business houses have been spending a moolah on branding & marketing, but at the same time there were some who preferred to ignore it looking at the high cost. However, keeping in line with the change in consumer behavior, there has been some shift of focus at the other end as well. Here’s how and where.

Gone are the days when Small and Medium businesses were restricted to their respective region. The inability to spend more branding & marketing is now a passé, courtesy, the rise of social media.

According to reports, more than 10 lakh businesses advertise on Facebook to grow sales. Social media today has become a platform that has the capability to help businesses target the right clients irrespective of their location. This is not all; it is also where companies keep their customers updated about anything related to the company, starting from new product launches to any change in the management. Social media applications like social networking, media sharing, blogging and pod casting among others are some of the popular applications used by companies to facilitate user interaction.

Social Media and Indian SMEs
According to a whitepaper released by Verisign, a US-based internet network infrastructure firm, only 57 per cent of Indian SMEs use a company website as their primary online presence while globally this number is as high as 72 per cent (SMEs without a web presence were not covered).

The whitepaper titled ‘Benefits and barriers of bringing a small business online: Perspectives from global small businesses’ covered topics including global usage of internet in business and brand communication and the focus segment was small and medium enterprises. According to the whitepaper, Indian SMEs looked at websites as medium to showcase their credibility.
“Social media has much more to offer than just socialising or connecting with friends and family. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Youtube among others are looked up to as serious marketing tools today. It is also one of the best way to spread awareness about your offerings globally and what you invest is just time,” says Rohit Bidappa, Social Media Consultant.

He adds, “All the big companies have already made their presence felt in the social media circle. But, now from what I have observed, even SMEs are gearing up to adopt the platform, though it will take some more time to completely catch up.”

The machine tool industry
India ranks 6th among the world’s biggest markets for machine tools and is on its way to become one of the fastest developing global hub. Looking at the highly competitive market, the best approach for the machine tool industry should be maximum interaction with the customers. Also, taking into consideration the high branding & marketing costs and the fact that a major part of the machine tool industry are SMEs and MSMEs, social media comes across as a highly  effective branding & marketing tool.
The industry should cash in on smart and cost-effective marketing, market analysis and customer connect at one go. Unfortunately, the awareness level about social media among the SMEs and MSMEs is still very low.

“Social media is the best platform for startups and small ventures as you save a large sum but still get good returns. But all said and done, just having a social media presence is not enough; one needs to think carefully about what message or information you want to want to deliver to the customers. It is very essential to target the right audience with right messages,” says Bidappa.

A huge scope
In March last year, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Facebook announced a partnership to enable Indian SMEs to combine the power of the internet and social media. This partnership is targeted to expand Facebook’s global Small and Medium Business (SMB) Boost programme in India and provide Indian SMEs with educational resources and free advertising to help them get started and grow their businesses online. Apart from this, the programme will also help member SMEs of FICCI to explore and utilise social media for business promotion and consumer outreach activities.

Social media gives small businesses the option to choose their target audience, it can be said to be a cheap but powerful way of branding & marketing.

“Few months ago, I was not confident to go for social media marketing or promotion. I was not sure if it can really help my business. I am a small businessman and do not have the capacity to invest that kind of huge money in advertising and branding,” says a local machine tool distributor on conditions of anonymity.