The Importance of Social Media for Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s)

Globally, over 95% of businesses are small to medium enterprises (SME’s)[1] and they are often the ones responsible for pushing for innovation and creating competition in many economic sectors. In the Middle East you’re more likely to be working for or with these kinds of enterprises,[2] so knowing how to use social media effectively is invaluable.

 

What advantages does social media marketing possess for SMEs?

The unique potential of social media to reach across global gaps instantly makes it a powerful tool for smaller enterprises to take advantage of. Pair this unprecedented access to global markets with a cost-effective and sustainable marketing strategy, and SMEs can now gain the upper hand in promoting their products and services.

Large scale campaigns often incur greater costs and can be difficult to sustain long-term for an SME. Alternatively, operating a social media presence incurs lower costs, and with an organized and creative strategy can have an even more lasting and engaging impact on its consumers than traditional offline marketing.

Increased use of social media platforms is also helping SMEs to craft strategies to reduce product and service prices, increase public awareness, and optimize “innovative concepts such as sharing and collaboration.”[3]

A great example of this is Bahraini startup 0805 Fitness, a new fitness enterprise promoting EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) training. Their Instagram page highlights their unique sessions, encourages followers to adopt healthier diets, and links to events such International Women’s Day to promote women’s physical health. All of this happens through social media, with high engagement on the majority of their posts.

 

What do SMEs have to be careful of when relying on social media marketing?

Good quality content beats quantity of content any day. If you start spamming your followers with an overload of posts, you will not only annoy your audience, but see a decrease in engagement. Whilst some social media gurus advise that around 1-2 posts on Instagram per day, for example, generally yields higher engagement, there is no one accepted rule. It’s important to gather analytics and gauge what works best for your business.

You also have to be clear about your goals and target audience. It’s tempting to sign up to every platform and start posting frantically, but a better approach is to narrow down your key audience and where they are spending their time to focus your message. You might want to tell your story on Instagram to create a following first, before venturing onto Pinterest or Twitter.

Use your size to your advantage. With social media marketing, SME’s can dedicate fewer and more focused resources to their online presence to create targeted advertising. Think organically, and small-scale ideas can quickly become large-scale success.

 

[1] http://www.oecd.org/cfe/leed/1918307.pdf

[2] Samuel BS, Sarprasatha J (2016) Entrepreneurship in social-media services in Oman: a socio-economic scanning of the sultanate. Asian Social Science 12: 138-148.

[3] Cesaroni FM, Consoli D (2015) Are small businesses really able to take advantage of social media. Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management 13: 257-268.