The endless articles of social media being used as a marketing platform for small businesses is lining the pockets of digital marketers and technology gurus.
I too tweet in the morning, Google in the day and poke and share at night. Sharing videos or song lyrics with accompanied emoticons expressing our feelings has become ingrained in our daily lives. And while social media can be effective for some small businesses in certain situations, it probably won't be your primary source of new leads.
OK, think about this, unless you've already achieved international brand recognition or have invested thousands of $$$'s into delivering an eco-friendly message or celebrity-endorsed award winning product, how effective will your posts be in terms of engaging your target market and attracting qualified leads?
Even though it might be a great idea to share the latest Heartbleed virus update, how many people will like, retweet or share is only relevant as far as branding. Realistically, they are NOT metrics that measure in business objectives and they have very little impact on converting B2B leads!
I ask for small businesses to take a good, close look at social media campaigns. Some will argue that this is trash talk and will undoubtedly point me towards social profiles that have large amounts of traffic and regular interaction with visitors who can relate to their brand, but really how many more would agree? The truth is, while there are plenty of audiences that respond well to social media marketing attempts, there are many others that don't for a number of different reasons.
The key here is 'brand recognition' and being something that people really can relate to. It's a marathon and like any long lasting relationship it needs to be built on a strong foundation over a long period of time. But depending on your industry, even months of hard work might not help you gain any significant traction.
What I'm suggesting here, is that some industries don't have the benefit of being inherently shareable. When you couple this with that fact that local businesses don’t have the same power behind their brand as huge corporations, it can end up making social media a tough channel to pursue.
Yes, social media is revolutionary. Facebook and Twitter have taken recent steps in acquiring businesses such as WhatsApp and Vine, while LinkedIn has secret plans to unveil an improved user platform in mid to late 2014. Things are definitely not slowing down as all players are aggressively expanding services and strategically planning their next takeovers in an already social media monopolised market. But is it really marketing revolution? Not necessarily.
It’s a bullet-train on an endless track and things are moving so fast that for those in specific industries, its more a case of getting on at the right time. Whether its your time really depends on your brand, your industry and your target market!
Is social media right for your business?
I urge you to check your Google Analytics traffic: how much traffic is coming from Linkedin or Facebook today? Look at how many brand followers your pages have and ask yourself, does it really make sense to invest marketing dollars to simply get a few more likes with no guarantee they'll ever buy from you?
If you're not getting traction with your social media marketing, take a break from researching broad advice that promises a quick fix. Even if you were to decide that social media is an appropriate channel for your business, there are no quick paths to success. Reevaluate your efforts: meet your customers where they are, consider the size of your audience and set your expectations accordingly.
I see many requests from our clients (mainly MSPs) willing to invest a lot of money in social media campaigns and community management programs just because they've heard so much about it, when realistically basic content feeds with moderate interaction is often sufficient.
This isn't meant to turn you off from social media completely. At this point, all businesses are expected to have at least a somewhat active social presence. It’s a checkbox that needs to be ticked for your business.
This is meant to be a reality check for small business owners. Unless you've already cultivated a large, active community around your brand, social media isn't going to be as powerful as some social media “gurus” would have you believe.
My advice is tick the boxes, but for real results, put your money where it matters - where your customers are. Whether that's SEO or PPC or Content Marketing depends on many variables. The important thing here is to not jump on the bandwagon just because everyone else is talking about it. Instead, do some research to determine which strategies have the highest potential of success for your business.
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