When not to start on social media
Social media can bring many benefits to some businesses, but many people have reservations over starting out. It’s true that it may not be right for every business. If your customers are in a niche market and aren’t on any social media channels, then your time and budget would be better focussed elsewhere.
If you’ll struggle to find the time to keep your social media up to date and engage with your audience, often waiting until you have the time or budget to employ someone to help or to outsource it may be the best option.
The benefits of social media
In a recent Social Media Examiner survey 87% of the 5,700 business marketing respondents said being active on social platforms had generated more exposure for their businesses.
In most cases social media can bring huge benefits to large and small business. The chart below shows the benefits and how respondents in the survey ranked them.
Chart 1. The benefits of social media marketing.
- Increased exposure 87%
- Increased traffic 78%
- Generated leads 64%
- Developed loyal fans 63%
- Provided marketplace insight 54%
- Improved sales 53%
- Grew business partnerships 48%
Being active on social media exposes your brand to a much wider and larger audience. Combined with great content, social media increases traffic coming to your website from social referrals and can lift your website’s search engine rankings. Communicating and engaging with your audience regularly in an informative and constructive way through social media will help build a loyal fan base and will position you as an expert and the ‘go to’ person for the challenges that your customers may be facing. It generates leads and can improve sales.
Setting up and running a social media account is free and that’s a great for small businesses. You can achieve the benefits of social media for no expense – other than your or your employees’ time. There are paid-for social media advertising options that you could introduce later. Overall, you may find that social media reduces your overall marketing expenses. Press advertising and direct mail costs, for example, could be reduced if you get your social media strategy right.
Your next steps
To gain from the benefits of social media you must have a social media strategy – you must know what you are going to do on social media and why. It’s also important to integrate your activity with the other aspects of your marketing – and especially your content marketing. You need to decide and document:
- How will social media help your business meet its objectives?
- What are your social media objectives e.g. do you want to generate local leads, do you want to build customer loyalty, etc?
- Who are your audience? Where are they most active and what type of content do they want to read and share? Which social media platforms would work best for you?
- How will your brand ‘talk’ and look on social media?
- What types of content will you post and when? Who will write it?
- Who is responsible for social media and what are the protocols for your employees?
- How you will measure results and success?