Every business owner knows online networking is important to their local search marketing. But just how crucial do entrepreneurs think social networking profiles are to their businesses? A new Manta survey revealed that a whopping 90 percent of small businesses are engaged in online networking to build their brands.
As consumers become more connected and increasingly reliant upon social networking, businesses feel the need to keep up and interact with customers online. Strong online business connections and consumer relationships may boost sales for some local companies.
Online networking taking over
Because so many entrepreneurs are using the internet to increase sales and create awareness, online networking is now seen as one of the most important aspects of a business. The survey indicated that 21 percent think online networking is more important than in-person networking, while 53 percent say the two are equally important.
Many entrepreneurs who network online find business value in social media strategies. Being found by new customers was the most commonly cited benefit of online networking, with 35 percent of respondents finding this to be the biggest perk. Gaining referrals was another strong contender, as 21 percent of entrepreneurs thought this was the biggest benefit from online networking.
All that social networking should be paying off, right? For some businesses, it certainly seems to be. Thirteen percent of business owners said they gained three quarters of their new consumers from using social media, and another 18 percent said social networking brought in about half of their new clients. While 42 percent of businesses said they gained about a quarter of their customers through online networking, 22 percent claimed they hadn't found a single consumer through networking channels.
Networking strategies that get results
The companies that are unable to find customers through social media could be having a problem with their Facebook presence. Fifty-eight percent of business owners either don't have a business page, or have one but don't think it helps their company.
But Facebook isn't the only social networking strategy entrepreneurs are using to boost sales. Company websites are the largest source of business for most companies, with nearly one quarter of respondents saying their website was their most valuable presence on the internet. Facebook ranked second with 19 percent of business owners saying this channel generated the most business. It was followed by LinkedIn, Google Plus, Manta and Twitter.
The payoff from an effective social networking strategy is obvious - a strong internet presence can lead to increased sales. Using social media websites is an optimal way to increase local search marketing.