The Rise of Mobile Social Networking for SMBs

Enterprise

This is the first post in a series looking at how small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) can find and engage with customers more effectively via social media, by using BlackBerry® smartphones and BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablets. We’ll give you ideas and look at tools and services to help harness the opportunities of effective social media use – even when you’re nowhere near a PC.

Why is social media important for SMBs?

Having a mobile phone is no longer just for making calls. Smartphones have brought about the ability to connect to the Internet from pretty much anywhere on the planet. This improved connectivity has driven a significant increase in social media use. An InSites Consulting study revealed that 56% of connected smartphone users log on to social networks daily and that 49% of Europeans follow a brand on social media. With more people online and engaging in social networks than ever before, this provides a great opportunity for businesses. With the ‘work anywhere’, flexible nature of small and growing businesses, a smartphone gives them a perfect opportunity to tap into and contribute to the conversations taking place online – and to engage as a means of raising awareness of their brand and developing potential new business opportunities.

Mobile social networking allows for instant engagement from anywhere as Erik Vermeulen, Keynote Speaker at the BlackBerry® Innovation Forum 2011 in South Africa, stated:

“7/10 SMBs already believe that Social Media is allowing them to get closer to their customers.”

Additionally, a 2011 Loudhouse study for Research In Motion® (RIM®) on European SMBs showed that growth and expansion remain priorities even in challenging times, with 69% of those surveyed looking to win new customers and partners. Nearly half of those surveyed also believed that a mobile phone was the most important sales tool an SMB had.

So what do these survey results mean for small and growing businesses?

Simply put, for SMBs to effectively position themselves in the wider market, they need to use mobile social networking to engage with customers and potential prospects at anytime, anywhere. Rather than being tied to a PC in an office, using a device like a BlackBerry smartphone allows an employee to stay mobile but remain connected to people and opportunities.

For businesses, engagement on social media is more than posting links to your website or blog. Effective engagement is about building a conversation with others, sharing insights and knowledge, and responding to questions someone might ask. People are increasingly using social media to discuss their experiences with brands, and so you might get vital feedback on your business or useful insights on the competition by ‘listening’ to these social conversations. You might even become aware of an issue or problem with your product or service, for example, so you can then put in place measures to avoid a potential crisis.

With so many different social networks and different streams of conversations happening all the time, how can you possibly keep track? Simple – the Social Feeds app on a BlackBerry smartphone conveniently brings content across various networks such as Twitter®, Facebook®, RSS feeds, and podcasts into one place. The Social Feeds app allows you to quickly see what’s going on without having to open several different apps on your BlackBerry smartphone. You can even perform Facebook or Twitter actions directly from the app.

Engagement is a key to SMB social media success, and we will be providing information on more handy tools, hints and tips over the coming weeks as the series continues.

Does your business use social networks to engage with customers? Which ones have been the most successful for you? Share your stories in the comments below.

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