Social Media Use in a Small Business
Social Media Use Introduction Medical Claims Consulting is an independently owned consulting business located in Austin, TX. The focus of the company is to help individuals understand and resolve their medical claims and insurance billing issues. It is a single person business that was established in November of 2009. The services offered can be handled virtually, eliminating the need for face to face, in person consultations, therefore clients can be physically located anywhere, however thus far the majority reside in Texas. Currently, little marketing is done to obtain new clients. Networking, word of mouth referrals and an affiliation with a national association, Medical Billing Advocates of America, are the only marketing efforts used to date to grow the business. Other avenues, such as social media marketing have been considered however no concerted effort has been put forth. Business Question The owner would like to answer the following question: Should social media marketing be used in a small business? It is understood that the owner may need additional training and education on the social media avenues and there will be a time commitment necessary to effectively implement a social media strategy. The following are hypothesized: 1. Social media is an effective method for marketing a small business 2. Social media will enable a small business to reach a larger client market base 3. Using social media will increase revenue
Social Media Use Social media defined
Social media is an open outlet for two-way communication and interactive dialogue (Lee, 2010). Social media stimulates live and immediate discussion (Bushey, 2010) on a plethora of topics and can be considered word-of-mouth advertising of the 21st century. Social media is an influential marketing and communication tool and its impact can be far reaching, at minimal to no cost and have powerful implications (Strauss, 2009). There are numerous social media outlets available for use. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are three sites impacting the world of business today and will be the social media tools focused on for the discussion of this paper. Twitter is an online platform that allows its users to blog using short 140 character statements, called “tweets’, to an online community. Twitter’s platform provides businesses an opportunity to distribute just-in-time information regarding their company at little to no cost. Approximately 23.5 million people in the United States use Twitter each month. Of these users, 55 percent are female, 45 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34, and 38 percent are 35 years of age or older (Geho, Smith & Lewis, 2010). Facebook, a social networking site, created in 2004, acquired over 300 million users within the first five years (McKee, 2009). Facebook continues to be a popular and commonly used tool to help people keep up with their friends, family and coworkers by posting status updates (Lacho & Marinello, 2010). It is also the most commonly used social media tool of the three, with more than two times as many small businesses having a Facebook page compared to a LinkedIn or Twitter account (Smth, 2010). According to Quantcast.com, Facebook has approximately 137 million users each month of which 55 percent are female, 42 percent range between the ages of 18 and 34, and 32 percent are 35 years of age or older.
Social Media Use LinkedIn is a professional social networking site geared toward business with more than
90 million registered users (http://marketing.linkedin.com/audience). It is the largest established networking community in the world, with users from over 200 countries, 170 industries and members from all the Fortune 500 companies (Quantcast.com). A LinkedIn user tends to be more educated than a user of Facebook ; 75 percent of LinkedIn users having a college degree or higher. LinkedIn’s more sophisticated layout requires more...