While major brands such as Dell, Starbucks, Comcast and IBM attract a lot of attention for their social media activities, small businesses are discovering the social media can be an effective (and cost-effective) way to attract new customers while taking care of existing customers.
For many small businesses, social media can work really well because the major “costs” are time and commitment as opposed to financial. If a small business owner is wiling, for example, to use Twitter, there are all kinds of creative ways to market and sell products and services as an alternative to traditional methods such as advertising and direct mail.
Social media also lets small business owners build stronger personal connections given that there’s a Joe behind Joe’s Pizza on Twitter, Facebook or a blog. This leverages one of the advantages that small businesses by highlighting personal service offered by an entrepreneur as opposed to a large corporate entity.
Earlier this week, the New York Times had a story looking at social media and small business. An example it provided as a sushi restaurant in San Francisco called Umi, which uses Twitter to tell people about the fresh fish of the night. Shamus Booth, the restaurant’s co-owner said, it sometimes attracts five new customers a night through Twitter.
According to the NYT, Twitter is becoming increasingly popular with small business owners business it’s easy to use and maintain than a Web site, while providing opportunities to build networks with customers.