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The Small-Business Owner's Guide to Advertising Injury

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA HELPS SMALL BUSINESSES

Chapter 1: How Social Media Helps Small Businesses

As we mentioned above, tens of millions of small businesses have joined social media sites to promote their brands and engage with their audience. That makes sense: 73 percent of all online adults use social media, with fully 71 percent of them using Facebook.

What's especially encouraging is that small-business owners are savvy about the ways social media can help a business by engaging customers, increasing brand awareness, and augmenting existing customer service operations — even if it doesn't offer a straightforward, dollars-and-cents return on investment.

Check out the chart below to see a breakdown of the reasons small-business owners include social media in their marketing strategy.

Why SMBs Use Social Media

Why SMBs Use Social Media
Engage Current Customers 63%
Boost Customer Loyalty 63%
Boost Brand Awareness 61%
Find New Customers 59%
Collaborate Externally 44%
Collaborate Internally 31%
Provide Customer Service 30%
Combat Negative Publicity 18%

Source: https://www.networksolutions.com/smallbusiness/wp-content/files/State_of_Small_Business_Report_Wave_5.pdf

As with anything, though, social media is a mixed bag: in addition to offering business owners a low-cost, high-visibility way to connect with current and potential customers, it exposes small businesses to a number of liability risks.

Most notably, social media sites introduce the risk of advertising liability claims against small businesses. That takes a lot of small-business owners by surprise. Because you're not forking over thousands of dollars for air time or spending weeks conceptualizing an ad campaign, marketing efforts on social media can feel low-stakes and inconsequential compared to their old-school counterparts.

But anything published where the public can see it — radio ad, billboard, or tweet — can be the target of an advertising injury lawsuit. And the costs of any lawsuit are high, even if it's dropped before going to court. Even hiring a lawyer can cost a couple grand.

Don't worry, though: if you've got a basic General Liability Insurance policy, you've probably got coverage for most advertising injury claims. So if you are sued for something you or one of your employees posts online, you'll likely be able to make a claim on your GL Insurance and not have to suffer any financial consequences greater than the cost of your deductible.

(You can learn more about this coverage by jumping to the "How General Liability Insurance Protects You from Advertising Injuries" section of this guide.)

Of course, it's cheaper and easier to avoid lawsuits altogether. In Chapter 2, we discuss everything you need to know about advertising injury so you can do exactly that.

Next: The 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media (+ 3 Tips for Getting It Right)

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