Companies continually launch marketing campaigns in an effort to promote their brand and increase their sales. Some of them are very successful: Carlsberg’s slogan and advertising of “probably the best lager in the world” generates an excellent reputation and brand awareness. This then contributes to increasing sales and ultimately increasing profits. However, many of these companies have large marketing and advertising budgets. What if your business can’t afford these marketing initiatives? This is where social media marketing comes into play. Most social media marketing “tools” are free to use and can provide the same amount of marketing exposure whether you’re just starting out or a giant conglomerate. This article explains how you can use social media marketing to increase sales at a relatively low cost.

First of all, let’s dispel the myth that social media marketing does not lead to a direct increase in sales. Here are some examples to prove this: Sony announced in February that via Twitter it had gained an extra £1m in sales, Dell announced in June last year that its Twitter presence accounted for an increase of $3m in sales. You could argue that these are two big companies and they already have a brand reputation. However, other smaller businesses have also experienced increased sales through this form of marketing. John Fluevog Boots & Shoes Ltd, a small shoe manufacturing company in Canada, reported a 40% increase in sales in 2009, the same year social media marketing began, this was no coincidence.

So how can social media marketing help increase your company’s sales? Social networking tools allow you to access millions of people. A TV ad will reach the people who are currently viewing it and does not allow any interaction with the consumer. A tweet can reach millions of people. Sainsbury’s, for example, regularly tweets its latest offers. Anyone who wants to keep up with these can simply follow Sainsbury’s on Twitter. This provides a much larger potential customer base and allows sales to increase while building brand awareness. In addition, people can reply to these tweets, providing a forum for customer interaction and thus getting to know the customer. Your business can emulate this, tweeting your promotions provides free publicity. If this is done creatively, it can really drive sales and make your business stand out.

Social media marketing works in a similar way to other forms of marketing; it’s viral A small business initially works by word of mouth, people tell their friends. This type of marketing, especially Twitter and Facebook, work with the concept of ‘friend’. People can give you positive reviews, recommend your product, and tweet about your company. All this social community allows your company name and brand to be seen by a significant number of people. Continued use of social media over time builds brand awareness and therefore helps increase sales. One of our clients, PeachorLemon, a car review website, gained over a hundred followers on Twitter in one week. These are one hundred more people who know about the promotions and offers, they can tell their friends, visit the website or use other social networks to mention PeachorLemon. All of this builds brand awareness and, over time, increases usage of the website, which increases its value.

The effect social media can have on brand awareness is critical in the future of small business marketing strategy. Brand awareness is just one way sales increase, there are many other important contributing factors. However, as this article has shown, building brand awareness through this new variant of marketing can have a huge impact on your business and revenue.

Anthony O’Flynn