One of the most significant advantages that large corporations have over small businesses is their research budgets. Demographic data and market trends all make the pursuit of additional customers much easier, but this information is expensive and requires either a large and well-paid staff or the funds to hire a professional firm.
Most small businesses aren't capable of these options, and it can seem as though any advertising or marketing campaign will necessarily involve promotional products or commercials. The only alternative may feel like a shot in the dark (that one prays will reach the right group of people).
However, the internet provides a bounty of information for small businesses, and social media is one of the best sources of the key data needed to make an accurate assessment of consumers. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn give immediate access to a number of customers and makes it easier to zero in on the most appropriate consumers.
One way to tighten the focus of a marketing campaign even more is by using social networking analytics. Google and other search engines provide a lot of information about the internet as a whole, but analytic services such as Trackur can sift through a small business' friends and followers on a social media website and extract useful data.
One of the ways that this is possible is by culling demographic information when available. When a company has a sizable following on Facebook or Twitter, the ages and locations of all those people can be analyzed and used to tightly focus promotions and advertising campaigns.
Additionally, these programs give the ability to find out which keywords are popular on a site, or "trending." Trending words can give insight into the mindset and attitude of consumers and fans, which can help to inform marketing tactics and determine which promotional products would be most effective for a customer base.
Perhaps most importantly, these tools will help to find out what a small business' overall image is on a particular social networking website. Though it doesn't help with the population at large, the better a manager or marketer understands how a company is seen on a certain website, the better he or she will be able to customize information and messages there. If a company desires the support of certain demographics as well, advertising in real life can reflect how those demographics perceive a small business on the internet.