Small companies perceive social media platforms like a non-stop party where simply attending won’t suffice – continuously making waves is also required. But this also puts a lot of pressure on a small business, so you need to have realistic expectations and a well planned social media strategy in order to get results.
In this context, a survey conducted by Manta back in 2013 found that almost 50 percent of surveyed businesses have managed to increase their time on social media channels, while another 55 percent have successfully used them for customer engagement. However, more than 6 out of 10 companies stated they did not see a return on their investment (ROI).
Some argue that social media used right can have a tremendous impact over a company’s profits while others believe the exact opposite. Regardless on which side of the fence you’re sitting, a clear and well-crafted social media strategy, alongside some down to earth expectations can help you avoid making damaging social media mistakes and exploiting all the benefits social media has to offer.
More recently, a survey sponsored by LinkedIn found that over 80 percent of small businesses use social media as a tool to drive the growth of their companies. Moreover, considering that 46 percent of clients say they go through social media before actually making a major purchase, it’s pretty clear that social media platforms have turned into powerful marketing instruments.
Still, startups are not yet able to completely understand the power of social media for business growth and are not aware of what should be implemented so that they see customer engagement.
But why exactly does that happen?
I usually talk to a lot of small business owners and in most cases they aren’t really all that sure where to begin. I’m always being asked whether they should copy from what the big players are doing on social media, or post some funny cat or dog videos. Also, some even don’t really know how they should measure the return on investment. So if you have trouble adapting to this new type of marketing, you should not be all that worried, it’s rather common among entrepreneurs.
So where to start?
The first thing you should consider is setting some legitimate expectations
If you believe that social media marketing is the key that will unlock a chest filled with countless millions in revenue, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. In fact, social media marketing is an accessible and cheap way of getting in touch with your customers and tapping into new markets. Of course, wanting to see a return on your investment is something every small business owner wishes. Still, you should also take into account that social media marketing does not have a standard conversion rate, something like every share on your Facebook page means you’ve earned a dollar.
If you’re interested more in making direct sales, social media marketing is not the way to go. Its intent is to enhance brand recognition and to boost search engine optimization. In time, both of these aspects will determine an increase in sales. Still, at first, it may feel like you’re holding a speech in front of an empty room. For starters, you should probably have some sort of presence on the three main social media networks: Facebook, Twitter and Google+. If the type of business you run is a B2B company, creating a LinkedIn profile could be a great addition.
After setting up company’s profile, you are ready to talk to people within your industry, potential clients or even representatives from different companies with whom you could create a mutually beneficial partnership. Alongside the updating and monitoring process of your social media profiles, it’s best if you start writing blog posts. Users will follow you only if you offer them a reason to, so make sure you post valuable content.
Keep in mind that social media’s intended use was always to provide an awesome environment where you can communicate with other people, in this case potential customers and clients. Most people use social media to drive sales and enhance brand recognition. And who can blame them? Still, what they often forget is to perceive social media as a digital billboard. Users will feel compelled to interact with your company’s profiles. Sooner rather than later you’ll find that they start commenting on your posts. In this case you should actually start talking to them, join the conversation.
Nowadays, social media marketing is gradually turning into a necessary networking tool. This is why you will be required to share meaningful, funny or witty content and interact with people. In no time you’ll see that your presence will start to gain some momentum, but in order to do that, don’t use these platforms only to shove down your customer’s throats updates about your products, services and your company.
Develop a thick skin
Small business owners always want to have a spotless reputation, so they often choose to reject social media due to the lack of control over the message. It’s understandable how you could feel helpless, but you should never let anger get the best of them. The main reason you’ve created the social media profiles is to reach as many potential customers as possible. Still, a social media platform like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook is not the place to settle an argument or an issue. Lots of small businesses get dragged into these types of online public conflicts. And what do you know; they always end up regretting it. When your company will receive any sort of a complaint, you need to move that problem as far away from your profile as possible, redirecting it through emails or private conversations. You need to do everything in your power to refrain from giving this complaint more (public) attention than it actually needs.
At times, social media, also known as social marketing can be confusing given the fact it’s a quite new field and not many entrepreneurs have had any sort of training. Still, you could potentially get a good grip on it if you manage to remain patient, create great and unique content, and interact with people while also keeping a cool head.
Still not convinced? Maybe this will change your mind:
- Facebook has over 2.2 billion registered users
- Half a million people use Twitter on a monthly basis
- Google’s +1 button is used 2+ billion times each day
- Every hour 5 million photos are uploaded to Instagram
- Every hour on Youtube 3,600 hours of video are uploaded