Social Media in the Land of Small and Medium Businesses

Most Montreal SMEs already have a website and a list of emails that they use to inform their customers and promote their products. Some also have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn page. However, they often lack the time and resources necessary to optimize the performance of these communication tools.

The report La PME au Québec Profil comparatif highlights that 97.7% of Quebec businesses are SMEs: one of the highest proportions in Canada. [1] In 2014, the 50-64 age group had the highest percentage of SME owners in Canada; 47.4% for small businesses and 51.0% for medium-sized businesses. [2] In 2015, Quebec had 235,075 small and 4,301 medium and 590 large businesses.

SMEs recognize the need to position themselves in this vast online market where millions of consumers spend their free time consulting and interacting on social networks. The Web has an undeniable advantage for SMEs: even with a modest budget, any business can increase its online presence, retain customers and convert potential customers into buyers.

The largest number of SME births (13,820) and deaths (12,590) exist in the professional, scientific and technical services sector. In a world of limited resources, the authors of the report believe that innovation is the quickest way for SMEs to increase productivity and stimulate economic growth.

These entrepreneurs are familiar with their area of ​​expertise, but tend to feel overwhelmed by the many changes taking place in the market since the advent of electronic commerce. These individuals have worked hard to succeed in business, but have been slow to embrace new technologies. They have neither the time nor the skills to ensure the success of their online businesses. They are aware of the need to increase the online presence of their products and services, but faced with the unknown, they are hesitant to invest.

Nowadays, a strong online presence is essential to the operational optimization of a business.

There are 235,075 small and 4,301 medium-sized businesses in Quebec, the vast majority of which are located in the Greater Montreal region. In theory, they could all benefit from the implementation of promotional tools used to increase their online presence. They have IT, communications and marketing needs in common, without having the income necessary to hire a full-time employee to take care of those needs. They prefer to hire freelancers as needed to help them out. Their preferred method of marketing is emailing customer lists, often including thousands of French and English customer names accumulated over the years. As their clientele is bilingual, their websites (and other promotional tools) must be designed in both languages, which implies hiring bilingual freelancers.

Nowadays, a strong online presence is essential to the operational optimization of a business. It is necessary for her to arm herself with innovation and creativity in order to make her voice heard among the river of information that circulates constantly on various social networks. A targeted strategy focused on social media and digital marketing, accompanied by a minimal capital investment, can significantly increase the chances of success of Montreal SMEs that have not yet made the leap. Their business executives are called upon to transform themselves gradually in order to take into account a product market mainly focused on online sales and a service market strongly influenced by their online presence. The future will belong to businesses that will be able to adjust to this new trend on the part of consumers.

[1] Key Small Business Statistics – Center for Web Services Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; The SME in Quebec Comparative Profile, June 2016

[2] Key Small Business Statistics – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada Web Service Center

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