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Facebook- a new marketing tool for today's SMEs

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in India are taking advantage of the social media networking platforms like Facebook to draw customer's attention and drive sales, said industry experts interviewed by SME Times.

The publication finds out that SMEs are using the Facebook platform to not only promote business through creating Facebook business pages but also ensure that they eventually get sales out of their online marketing approach.

Krishnan Guptaa, Managing Director, Organic India said, "As you can see anyone who is doing advertising on Facebook is actually there for generating sales. The end purpose of an entrepreneur is to generate sales. Although, the motive of any small business is to get promotion on Facebook but SMEs at the end of the day want sales."

He said that SMEs cannot afford expensive marketing strategy so with the advent of such networking platform a business can definitely thrive as it is cheaper than any other traditional media. SMEs get the opportunity to connect with people and inform them about the products and services.

"We, at Organic India have a motive in particular to create a movement. Our focus is to inform the customers about what Organic India is doing. Our model is to educate the consumers and I think Facebook is a medium, which can be used to educate the consumers. We, as a company only want to connect to our consumers through Facebook," he also added.

Experts believe that currently there is no company who will at all want to miss the opportunity social networks or Facebook is providing. But it is quite difficult to say whether they (SMEs) know the benefits of such networking platform as many are just using it as a page to generate many 'likes'.

"In most of the cases, marketers don't know what they can achieve from social media and what they want to do with it, but still they want to do something there,"  said expert Sanjoe Jose, CEO of Interview Master who himself is using Facebook for informing customers about updates in products.

"We also try to promote product through contests. We have tried promoting our mock interview product to students on Facebook. We try to go viral by running contest which incentivize users to refer it to other users," he added.

Industry further said that to run any advertisement on Facebook requires potential money and SMEs face glitches in getting the capital for promoting themselves on any media. Advertising is a kind of expensive affair for them.

Ankur Kalra, Founder & CEO at Vibgyor Brand Services said, "We use Facebook to give people an insight into the working of India’s leading events and activation agency. We share behind-the-scenes pictures of our work, videos, pictures and client feedback. We also share ideas and events from around the world that we find fascinating. The idea is to create a community of people that is involved and excited with creating fresh ideas in the events and activations space and contribute to it regularly."

He added that on the successful completion of a campaign, they then share their experiences and pictures from it. "We had recently updated pictures of campaigns for Samsung, Indian Express and Jabong.com among others," he said.

"Vibgyor has a small but powerful community of people from the events and activation industry who share ideas, industry trends and their work. The strategy is to promote the agency as a thought-leader in the space and encourage brand managers to dip into the pool for concepts," Kalra said.

When asked whether Facebook promotion is concentrated only on Page likes, experts said that it is true that Facebook’s marketing approach is most of times limited to Facebook likes.

SMEs take this approach as a review of their brand and for boosting their egos. A marketer starts a Facebook page with a focus in their mind to increase the page likes, experts believes.

In this context, Guptaa also said it is necessary for SMEs to build their network through social media and focus on getting good return-on-investment (ROI).

Experts also said that there are many fake profiles on Facebook pretending to be an SME. The like at times on the Facebook Page are fictitious and has nothing to do with a company’s business.

This is also an important thing in marketing as a company needs to reach the right audience and not just focus on increasing the page likes. The marketing approach should be in a more relevant way so that substantial revenue growth is made, he said.

In conclusion, experts feel that the result of promotion on Facebook should help SMEs to generate interest and revenue for their business apart from page likes.