Many distributors are upgrading their websites and considering the plunge into social media. The University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business looked at the relationship between social media and small businesses and found that the technology adoption rates in the U.S. have doubled in the past year from 12% to 24%.
The study concludes that nearly 20% of business owners are incorporating social media into their businesses — Facebook and LinkedIn were the most popular sites. In fact, 45% of surveyed respondents even believe their social media initiatives will pay off financially in 12 months or less.
As the graphic below details, the small business owners who are using social media are primarily engaging in social media through company pages (75%) and status updates (69%) on Facebook or LinkedIn. Just 16% are using Twitter as a customer service channel.
To get started, you should have an idea of what you want to accomplish and impart via social media. Tamara Weinberg of Mashable provides a good compilation from industry experts: 13 Essential Social Media Lessons for B2B Marketers from the Masters. Christina Warren of Mashable provides 10 Essential Social Media Tips for B2B Marketers.
LinkedIn is a great way to get started in social media – it surpassed the 100 million user mark last March and continues to be the premier site for Business to Business networking.
To get started, you’ll first want to create your personal profile. Dan Schawbel at Mashable has a good article on how to set up your LinkedIn profile and here's how to Ensure Your LinkedIn Profile is Effective. And don't forget to join the
Once you have your personal profile done, you can create a company profile. Post regular status updates to your company profile and follow the companies you do business with. Here is a previous article we posted on 10 Ways for Small Businesses to Use LinkedIn.
You also have the ability to set up groups within LinkedIn to disseminate information to customers, etc. These can be locked so that the information remains inaccessible to the public domain. Tribute, Inc. has set up groups for our Tribute or TrulinX software users on LinkedIn to network with our staff and their peers.