Who would’ve thought that social media shoutouts are actually a significant driver of business? In the US, a study from American Express shows that small businesses generate 23 percent of their revenue from these social media endorsements—that’s approximately $197 billion. Seems like simple Instagram stories and tagged photos are now one of the best ways to get to know a brand, even prevent it from completely shutting down.

Social media effectiveness boils down to engagement. Recommendations from family, friends and influencers reflect how consumers are becoming more discerning in their choices. Paid advertisements don’t always do the trick. More often than not, whatever feels more genuine and authentic (such as word of mouth) is what moves consumers. 

The thing about small businesses establishing their names online is that there’s always personalized attention which contributes to the customer’s whole buying experience. Owners can give a more personal response instead of scripted, auto-generated answers. This direct connection is what gives small businesses the social media advantage.

With the holiday season fast approaching (although it’s hard to say at this point if Christmas is really in the air), small businesses need more social media shoutouts more than ever. At the height of e-commerce, social media compliments will keep brands top of mind. Movements that support local businesses prove that digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great avenues for engagement and brand recognition.

Reviews, questions, comments and feedback mold products and services to what suits their consumers better, while shares, mentions and reactions expand their market reach. Small businesses thrive in communities, and if it’s the kind that passionately supports each other’s growth, one social media story can pave the way for a brand’s victory.

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