A report published on USA Today early in October said nearly 30% of small businesses don’t use social media. When you come to think about it, these small business owners are missing out on big marketing opportunities, as the average digital media usage among US consumers is estimated at nearly 15 hours per week. That data is expected to reach 19.30 hours per week by 2017.

Image credit: Free Digital Photos user t0zz

Image credit: Free Digital Photos user t0zz

Entrepreneurs can boost their brand awareness using digital media, if they do it consistently and strategically, said marketing and small business experts. It can also improve customer relations and help increase sales.

Jeff Sweat, director of PR and Social Media for ad agency Deutsch LA said when it comes to choosing from the wide array of social-media choices, firms should first focus on channels that mean the most to their businesses.

For instance, companies which need to establish business-to-business relationships must have a presence on Linkedin, while for consumer-oriented businesses, it is best to have a Facebook page.

A presentable website is also a must-have for small businesses but it doesn’t have to be flashy or super slick said Katie Vlietstra, director of government affairs at the National Association for the Self-Employed. The important thing for company website is that it should be clean and updated, easy enough for existing customers and potential clients to navigate and find the information they need.

Justin Maas, vice president of client relations at fishbat, a leader in Internet marketing companies, said marketing through social media is undoubtedly the best way for small businesses to meet their potential.

“The single biggest obstacle that most small businesses face is raising awareness. It is hard to sell a product or service when nobody knows who you are or where to find you,” Maas explained in a media release.

“Social media allows small business owners to provide prospective customers the ‘who, what, where, when’ of their company, then actively engage them through various channels.”

“If a company is willing to spend the time to maintain an active presence on social media channels, or hire a professional firm, the results can be tremendous. Establishing an audience on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can provide just as much business as spending thousands of dollars on traditional marketing.”

Social media has indeed given businesses a great opportunity to protect and build their reputations online. All of these tools which were not available a few years ago have turned markets into dynamic landscapes, allowing businesses to be proactive in maintaining and boosting their brands and ultimately increase their sales and achieve their goals.