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As part of a multichannel campaign, social media can help small businesses achieve marketing goals

Social media has turned marketing and advertising on its head in recent years. But many small businesses make the mistake of approaching their social media campaigns as they would any other marketing medium.

Consequently, many marketers are beginning to doubt the benefits of social networking for business purposes. A September survey conducted by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland School of Business found that small business adoption of social media has slowed to 24 percent, suggesting to many that whatever company is going to join a social network has already done so.

The survey also found an 18 percent gap between expectations and accomplishments, with 71 percent of respondents claiming they expect social media to help them find and attract new customers and only 53 percent accomplishing this goal.

But social media can be enormously beneficial if small businesses begin to approach the opportunity in a different, more personal and more creative fashion.

“Websites such as Twitter and LinkedIn must not be seen as a means of advertising, but as a way to communicate directly with current and potential clients, other professionals and the outside world at large,” writes the Lincolnshire Echo. “When we started (social networking) … it was much more a sense of trying to make our partners more visible to the outside world, and being able to carry out the sort of networking we used to do occasionally at meetings and gatherings on a more regular basis.”

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