Is small business social media marketing really worth the time and effort? Does it deliver tangible results that matter such as sales, or at the very least enquiries?
It seems every conference and exhibition has a slot allocated to a speaker promoting the benefits of social media marketing. Their standard pitch tends to be
- Posting regularly on social media will secure more content views and more followers.
- This will lead to more engagement and more sales leads.
Valid in theory (perhaps) but it assumes your potential customers are:
- Active (in sufficient numbers) on social media.
- Interesting, engaging content is available in sufficient quantity.
- Your business has the time and resources to publish and engage consistently.
- Your business can project an appropriate brand image/voice.
What’s The Plan?
Before allocating any effort to social media it is important to define your objectives. Is it simply to raise awareness? Is it to help build backlinks to the website to help with SEO? Is it to generate enquiries? Or is it to build your profile?
Define what success will look like and measure progress towards that goal. How much time and resource will be required and will that resource generate an appropriate return?
Is Anybody There?
The first step is to consider if potential customers are active on social media. If they are active what is their preferred channel? Is it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or something else?
The challenge is to choose the most appropriate channel and not to spread effort too thinly. In B2Bmarkets, the best channel might be LinkedIn. If you aim your the product or service at those in their early teens, it could be Snapchat. If the product or service is visual, then Pinterest could be best.
Social Media Content
To generate any reasonable return on social media activity requires content. That content needs to be of value to the target customer base, engaging and of high quality. The content itself can take many different forms.
As discussed elsewhere on this blog, content is important to any small business marketing process. It is the fuel for social media activity. The social media plan must dovetail with the content plan to avoid duplicating effort.
Time And Resources
There are many abandoned social media accounts across the web. The warnings are clear, without a plan and solid commitment it may be best to avoid social media. If you do not have the time to focus on social media it is best to avoid it altogether. You could generate a better return elsewhere. There are other marketing options.
Voice is difficult to explain or quantify. The content on some social media accounts just feels wrong. It may be dry and lacking any personality. It may not be engaging in any way.
Content published on social media needs to be social (the clue is in the name). It needs to have some humanity and needs to engage.
Both text and images can improve engagement but social media success depends to an extent on the personality of who writes the content.
Organic Reach vs Paid
Finally, it is important to appreciate that organic reach on social media channels is decreasing. This means content (posts) will not display in followers feeds as often as it did in the past.
A paid model rather than an organic model may be more appropriate. That means sponsoring (paying for distribution) of content. In general, the costs of sponsoring a single post are not significant but they can build up over time.
In conclusion, social media can be effective for some small businesses and a complete waste of resources for others. Take time to consider the issues, measure the right outcomes and beware of false expectations.