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Social Media Designed For Small Businesses

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  • 1. Salentine/Sanderson Trends AssignmentSocial Media Designed For Small Businesses Jeremy Salentine Dan Sanderson HT 344 Prof. Brey October 1, 2012
  • 2. Salentine/Sanderson Small Hospitality Businesses Team Up In the most recent decade social media has become increasingly more popular andimportant. Social media is now becoming more popular amongst businesses. Facebook andTwitter have been common place for businesses to represent themselves, communicate andadvertise to their “friends” and customers. Although these webpages have some benefit, thecontent and tools available on sites like these are not directed towards small business owners.Social media networks are now being created and used specifically for the use of smallbusinesses to connect, collaborate and interact. Although these webpages provide advertisement for their products and services just like abusiness webpage or other social media site would offer, the purpose of the membership to thesewebpages is not oriented for communication with future customers or guests. Instead thesewebsites are designed to help small business owners utilize other small business owner’sknowledge and skills to help increase their success. Small companies do not have the workpower and availability of resources that large businesses do. In order for these small businessesto compete, they must collaborate their ideas and work together to help one another developthrough the use of these social media resources. A few of the most common social media sitesdesigned for small businesses and entrepreneurs include Manta.com, Focus.com, Neudesic.comand Partnerup.com. The access and use of these websites are very simple. Any online browsercan go to these pages and look up companies and businesses on the interest using a search enginewith many features. In order to utilize the tools and communication devices these type of sitesusually require, a membership fee with monthly charges as well as other charges for access todifferent types of resources is required. Although there is a price, many users suggest that thesesocial media resources have allowed their companies to grow and succeed. An article states “arecent survey conducted by Manta revealed that 42 percent of business owners get their advicefrom fellow small business owners, and a large part of the Manta community conversation isbased around operating tips.” The potential for these websites is great! Allowing small businesses to utilize otherbusinesses knowledge, collaborate and partner gives them greater chances to compete with largebusinesses. Having the availability to use other resources bridges the gap between larger andsmall businesses because it allows for more people to communicate ideas amongst each othermuch like large businesses do with their own staff and employees. I think the multitude of these social media websites directed towards small businesseslimits the ability for them to be as useful as they could. Some of the more common sites likeManta.com, Thomas.net, and business.com have the traffic and popularization to make themnecessary purchases for small businesses. “Manta, which is home to more than 89 million smallbusiness owners, uses social business profiles and other online communication features to helpsmall businesses improve their online presence and gain increased visibility with customers andprospects.” In order for these social media outlets to function properly and be of value tomembers, they need to be popular and highly used.In order for the success of social media business webpages to succeed you need to determinehow they are shaping the small businesses working in the hospitality field. By dissecting howsocial media is used, you can determine the trends needed to become successful.
  • 3. Salentine/Sanderson Social Media Better Engaging Small Hospitality Businesses Our trend of social media networks directed towards small businesses communication isbecoming more common. Some of the webpages that we chose to evaluate include Manta.com,Neudesic.com, Parnterup.com, Thomas.net and Focus.com. These social media webpages arebeneficial to small hospitality businesses in two ways. They are designed for small businessesand provide tools and resources for users to communicate, collaborate and use one another’sfeedback to help grow their business. A lot of the information discussed on these sites relates tomaking social media a more opportunistic way to interact with customers and future customers.This leads into the second way that these webpages are shaping hospitality marketing. Withthese webpages, they are becoming more effectively sound at delivering the social mediaenvironment that guests and customers are looking for. In the recent decade, internet advertisement is becoming increasingly more important forbusinesses to be successful. In order for smaller businesses to compete, they need to be able toadvertise their products and services more effectively. An article from L.A times states, “90percent of small-business owners are networking online.” The power of social media hasevolved into a business opportunity for many but needs to be utilized correctly. Manta.com“surveyed 600 small business owners nationwide and found that 78 percent say that using social-networking platforms is just as important as networking in person—if not more so.” Manta’smain focus is to allow the business community to connect, partner and further develop. Anarticle states, “a recent survey conducted by Manta revealed that 42 percent of business ownersget their advice from fellow small business owners, and a large part of the Manta communityconversation is based around operating tips.” The accessibility and ease for small companies andbusinesses to communicate and network in social network settings like Manta encourages theirability to compete with larger businesses. The other aspect of our trends focuses on the power social media can have on smallhospitality businesses. Learning how to properly display information and utilize social media isa necessity. In order for small businesses to compete, they need to be able to advertise theirproducts and services using the same resources large businesses use. Customers in demand ofproducts and services are using internet more and more to decide, define and confirm theirpurchase decisions. Manta.com and Thomas.net are allowing customers to view these smallerbusinesses by providing webpages with these companies in mind. Allowing these companies toget exposure via Manta and other websites, gives viewers the opportunity to look into smallbusiness ventures more easily. It is very valuable for creating a stronger internet exposure andpresence. Manta is great because it allows companies to advertise their content via their websiteand provides links and resources to document their purpose, availability and ratings. Thomas.netalso does a great job promoting deals, posting and emailing newsletters and posting ratings andtestimonials. This type of resource is often most valuable for companies who do not have accessor an opportunity to develop websites of their own. These websites ultimately serve as a starting
  • 4. Salentine/Sandersonpoint for businesses to develop and gain exposure so they are given an opportunity to succeedand compete in the internet and social media field. Speaking with a small business owner in the hospitality field helps better understand thepossibility and opportunity this trend may have. Understanding what small business owners arelooking for in social media is helpful in determining changes that need to be made for this trendto succeed. Combining Together For A More Recognizable Future We recently spoke with a bar and restaurant owner. We discussed various social mediaresources and the importance it has in relation to customer relationships and business success.They were very familiar with Twitter and Facebook. They use both of these resources to helppromote and display their business. They were unfamiliar with webpages like Manta.com,Thomas.net, and Hoover.com. We explained these social networks were oriented towards alltypes of small businesses to display rating, post blogs and locations. We then further explainedthat the main goal of these spaces was to provide a designated area for businesses to share ideas,collaborate and improve small business success. The interest in these types of social medianetworks was apparent but the desire to pay for these types of services and ability to utilize theseservices properly was in question. The business owner explained that he is already a successfulbusiness owner and collaborates with other Mexican restaurant owners in southern Minnesotathat share the same name. They encourage customers and guests to seek these other destinationsto eat when traveling. His main concern in relation to collaboration and sharing tips was takingaway any business opportunities from themselves. He did not seem to relate the spectrum andsize of these webpages and the amount of users who were members of Manta.com. Wecontinued to describe that Manta had millions of small business owners contributing to the page.If the information was worthy and credible, he would enjoy partaking in the endeavors but hisaptitude for social media and technology was of little interest. Instead he considered these socialmedia pages would be more suitable for vacation and tourism destinations. They have a largermore versatile customer base and are often unknown by those visiting the destination.Information from other small businesses in the same situation could offer deals and communicatewith other tourist destination businesses to understand what helped them succeed and developbusiness success. We also spoke to the small business owner about more effectively utilizing any type ofsocial media. The majority of his page is used to advertise menus, show pictures of specials,inform customers of deals, and wish people good holidays. The structure of how social mediapages are delivered is important in creating revenue and small businesses have very differentways of doing so. An article from boston.com states “25% of small businesses surveyed saidthey use social media in a structured way (thats a low percentage), while 20 percent use socialmedia in an informal way. (also a low percentage).” If small businesses can learn toappropriately display their information in areas where customers and future customers arelooking for it, this gives them the heads up. Basically companies are improperly using many ofthese webpages to display and advertise information. The use of these sites is designed tocommunicate with customers and guests, not to advertise.
  • 5. Salentine/Sanderson These types of sites are continuing to be launched. In order to stay ahead of competitionthey need to collaborate together. Each site has different tools and functions available andcontinuously being improved for user benefits. By improving the ability of these sites andmaking them more popular and recognized by small businesses will positively affect networkingand promote small business communication. The more small businesses can communicate andcollaborate with other businesses the more they can develop their business success and ability tocompete with businesses that have more resources. Expanding resources allow small companiesto operate more like large businesses do. The trend of social media designed for small businesses will have impacts on the businesslandscape. The more small business organizations that choose to collaborate the largeradvantage they have to compete with large hospitality businesses. Right now there are currentlyoverwhelming amounts of social media sites and applications that all provide many differentpurposes and uses. Defining the use of these types of social media webpages and utilizing themproperly will release some of the traffic of these many social media oriented webpages not usedfor their purpose. In order for this trend to continue its progression and become more successful thesesocial media webpages will need to collaborate with one another in order to create an ultimatesite used by the vast majority of small business owners. Once there is a webpage recognized as aFacebook or LinkedIn for small businesses it will be seen as more valuable and reliable.Manta.com is currently the primary social media resource for small businesses but there aremany competitors and new sites developing competing with its purpose. If some of thefunctionalities of Thomas.net were available on Manta.com as well it would create a moreempowering site for small businesses to utilize. Basically I think the design of the social medianetwork needs to be structured more simplistically. If this type of social media resource was atno cost it would also increase the popularity of its use.
  • 6. Salentine/Sanderson Sources http://www.boston.com/business/specials/small_business_blog/2012/09/small_businesse_ flirt_with_social_media.html  http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-small-biz-survey- 20120912,0,6925065.story  http://www.ecnext.com/ecnext/Successes-MantaLeadGen.html  http://www.nfib.com/business-resources/business-resources-item?cmsid=55196Ed  www.manta.com  Gonzalez, co-owner El Tequila Northfield MNSocial Media Designed For Small Businesses