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Facebook Shares New Insights into the Impacts of COVID-19 on SMBs

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Facebook has released the latest iteration of its State of Small Business Report, which looks at how COVID-19, and the related lockdown measures, are impacting SMBs around the world.

The data, which Facebook has been tracking since July, incorporates responses from more than 30,000 small business owners across 50 countries, and highlights the key concerns and challenges each faces as they seek to maintain operations. The insight here is valuable for virtually every organization, as the flow-on effects from SMBs will relate to spending in all aspects of the economy, and will influence market spend and focus moving forward.

You can download the full, Global State of Small Business report here, but in this post, we’ll look at some of the key data points and charts.

First off, on sales volume and performance – the data shows that all sectors are still seeing lower sales numbers than they were in 2019, with 52% of SMBs also reporting lower sales in the last 30 days compared to last year.

Facebook State of Small Business report

That underlines the ongoing pressure on SMBs, with many struggling to get by, with the hopes of a vaccine roll-out, and a return to relative normalcy, on the horizon. 

Lower sales performance has pushed SMBs to look alternate platforms to meet their customers, with a 60% increase in the share of purchases made by consumers through digital channels in the period.

Facebook State of Small Business Report

As you can see in the first segment, the proportion of businesses making no sales through digital channels fell from 35% to 13%.

That shift has lead to new shopping behaviors, which will likely hold after the pandemic period, which is an important consideration for all brands to keep in mind. If you’re not implementing digital sales tools, you’ll likely miss out on a large section of your audience – even when they can return to regular shopping processes.

The report also highlights ongoing supply issues, with supply chains disrupted by various COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Facebook State of Small Business report

So it’s not just getting people in-store or to your website, it’s also sourcing products that’s hampering SMBs. The numbers underline the broad-reaching scope of the impacts, and the effect on the global economy.

The report also looks at how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted minority communities.

Facebook State of Small Business Report

Indeed, Facebook says that 70% of small businesses in minority communities have reported lower sales, compared to 41% in non-minority communities, while 36% of small businesses in minority communities reported being closed (versus 22%). 

That’s been part of the impetus behind Facebook, and other platforms, providing more support for Black creators and businesses. COVID-19 has hit these communities particularly hard, and it’s important that we all do what we can to support minority groups to help keep them afloat throughout the situation.

Facebook’s report also provides more specific analysis on how the pandemic has impacted business leaders of each gender, with domestic duties having more impact on female workers.

Facebook State of Small Business report

87% of female business leaders have reported domestic responsibilities impacting their work, versus 72% of male business leaders. That’s yet another consideration in the wider, and ongoing impacts of the pandemic – which, hopefully, we’re now getting closer to moving on from.

But it will take time, time many SMBs simply don’t have. As such, it’s important to keep your local businesses in your thoughts, and to consider where you’re shopping, and how you can provide support where possible. 

There’s a heap more info in the full, 50-page report, including in-depth analysis of various impacts and sectors. Essential reading for those looking to understand the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.  

Socialmediatoday.com

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Are you looking to create an effective social media marketing strategy? Want to learn the core disciplines you need to pay attention to?

The team from MDG Advertising share their social media tips in this infographic.

They break things down as follows:

  • Strategy
  • Auditing
  • Technology
  • Paid media
  • Content development
  • Customer response
  • Compliance and risk assessment
  • Measurement

Check out the infographic for more detail.

A version of this post was first published on the Red Website Design blog.

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

Making your business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace is key to its success. High-quality products and services, a smart pricing strategy, and effective marketing are just the basics. The most successful entrepreneurs have a few extra tricks that separate their business from the rest of the pack.

Tell a strong story

Businesses need to do two things to succeed; be relevant and distinctive. As Steven Hess, founding partner at WhiteCap, explains, doing one without the other will lead to failure. “Being relevant on its own leads to a focus on price and an inevitable sublimation into the sea of sameness, and customers will not look for you,” he says. “Being distinctive without solving a problem leads to gimmickry and longer-term weakness. You have to do both, and one way of uniting the two is with a strong story.”

This could focus on the founder’s story, what led them to set out on their business journey, how they identified the problem they are solving, and how they are solving it uniquely. Stories can also be drawn from customers; how are they using your products or services? What problem does it solve for them?

“You also need to look at how your competitors are presenting themselves and then present yourself in the opposite way,” says Hess. “This will feel uncomfortable, and most businesses fail at this point. Why do ads for cars, financial services, estate agents, etc., look the same? It’s because most of us don’t want to stand out. We’re afraid to fail and be seen to fail. But if we are not being seen, being distinctive and solving a real problem, we’ve already failed.”

Focus your messaging on customer needs

A company’s messaging has to be focused on its potential customer’s biggest wants and needs. It should clarify what people will get if they buy from you, what transformation they will see, and how they will feel afterward. “Most importantly, it should communicate what people will miss out on if they don’t buy from your startup,” says business growth consultant Charlie Day. “When you shift your messaging from simply trying to grow a business and make money to focusing on your customer’s biggest wants and needs, the sales and growth will come, and it will set you apart from others.”

Target an underrepresented audience

This can be a powerful way for startups to stand out. “By focusing on a group that larger companies often overlook, they can differentiate themselves and appeal to a unique and untapped market,” says Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Folderly. “And by providing solutions to the specific needs and challenges of this audience, startups can establish a strong reputation and build a loyal customer base.”

For example, a fitness startup targeting older adults can stand out by offering specialized classes, products, or resources. By providing solutions to the physical limitations of older adults, the startup can differentiate itself from other companies, address the unique fitness challenges faced by older adults, and build a loyal customer base.

However, as Podolyako points out, this strategy must be carefully thought out. He says: “The startup may be associated with an older audience only, so you should work with PR agencies to get the positioning right and potentially think about creating a sub-brand.”

Differentiate your social media strategy

A unique voice and communication style will make you stand out on social media. However, it’s not just what you say but what you do that makes the difference. “If everyone is offering ‘how to’ tips on LinkedIn, create some short form behind-the-scenes videos. If everyone is doing special offers on Facebook, publish some tip-based stories,” says Catherine Warrilow, managing director of Daysout.com. “Make yourself accessible for customer support on the social media channels used by your audience, for example, via What’s App or Messenger.”

Respond promptly to customer calls

Making it easy for customers to contact you and get a response is vital for customer engagement and retention. Yet, businesses are surprisingly poor at answering their phones, listing phone numbers on their websites, and responding to voicemails. It’s a massive turn-off for customers, as a survey by global communications company Moneypenny revealed, with unanswered phone calls topping the list of consumer gripes, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by annoying hold music (35%).

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, says: “Customers use the phone when they have an urgent or sensitive issue to discuss, so companies cannot afford to provide a poor call experience; business will be taken elsewhere. By mastering the art of call handling, businesses can keep their customers happy and loyal and boost the bottom line in the process.”

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Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes

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Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes

Amid the various large-scale changes at Twitter, the platform is also working on some smaller tweaks and updates, which may or may not ever get released, but could provide valuable functionality for many users.

First off, Twitter’s testing the ability to search through your Likes, so you can find out who, specifically, has liked your tweets.

That could help you glean more context when reaching out to someone, or just another way to understand who’s responding to your tweets.

And it could be particularly valuable as a research tool for marketers in understanding their audience and who they’re reaching with their tweets.

Twitter’s also testing a new way to filter your replies, which could be handy if you get a lot of responses to a tweet.

Tweet reply sorting

I mean, I’m not sure how many people are getting so many replies to their tweets that they need a filtering option, but for those that are, this could be a simple way to ensure you’re staying up on the most relevant responses and responders, to better manage your engagement.

Finally, Twitter’s also experimenting with new timeline settings, which would provide more control over your timeline and pinned lists.

Twitter timeline controls

Note also, in the middle screen, that Twitter’s developing an option that would enable you to hide your tweet view counts, which would provide another way to manage your activity in the app.

As noted, all of these are in test mode, with Twitter engineer Andrea Conway posting them for public opinion, before exploring further development. But they could be handy, and while they’re not game-changers as such (which may mean they get less priority), smaller tweaks and updates like this could be significant for certain users, and could make it easier to manage your tweet activity.

We’ll keep you updated on any progress.



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