If you're a small-business owner, you only have a set amount of resources and budget you can use for your marketing. Any marketing initiatives usually take up time as well if you haven't passed them to someone else. One thing that many small-business owners struggle with is whether or not they should invest the time and energy in social media. They don't want to jump into a new medium if it's not going to bring them new customers, increased exposure, or actual revenue.
With all the available social media platforms, it can be difficult to decide whether your company is missing out by not being on Instagram or Facebook. Below are some of the arguments to consider when deciding whether or not social media marketing is a good idea for your business, and how your specific business can be successful on different platforms.
The number one thing about social media is that you shouldn't do it just because you feel like everyone else is. That may be a controversial thing to say to marketers, and people may disagree. But when business owners use this logic as the reason to get on Facebook or create an Instagram account, it usually backfires. This is because they don't have a true strategy or passion behind the content they post online. Then, they wonder why there isn't a lot of engagement or audience growth. What they sometimes fail to consider is that social media audiences can tell when a business isn't excited to connect with them through that channel.
If you're not completely convinced social media is right for your business, but you want to give it a try, make sure to use social media for a specific reason. This can help you create more engaging posts because you have a purpose behind their publication. A purpose could be anything from sharing why a new product is helpful for customers to a behind-the-scenes look at your company’s culture. There are any number of ways to be creative about what you share on social media. You could give two employees the responsibility of doing a few posts each week and alternate between them so your audience gets a different view of the company on a regular basis. Or, you could share customer testimonials or new developments about your business. Remember that just because you have a social media account doesn't mean you need to be posting a wide variety of content every single day. Many business owners feel that this is the only way, but it’s not true. It's important to think about how this effort is going to benefit your business instead of it feeling like an obligation.
Don't be afraid to try new things and to look at what other businesses are doing for inspiration, but stay true to your business’s identity. Just because your competitors are using social media a certain way doesn't mean you have to do the same. Do some research into where your audiences are most active online and what platforms would be best for them to interact with your business.
Using social media platforms that you're excited about ties in nicely to the strategy of making sure you only use the right channels for your specific industry and audience. For instance, a plumbing company whose target audience is mainly looking for emergency services likely aren't going to be looking on Twitter when they’re in dire need of a plumber. Being more active on Facebook may yield better results, as a potential customer’s friend could recommend a plumber they trust by tagging a Facebook page. Additionally, if someone searches Google for a plumber, Facebook pages could be shown in the search results.
If your company’s audience is mainly B2B, having profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter may make more sense. You're able to share company updates, new job openings, and industry news in a place where many people are looking for information.
The majority of people have a Facebook profile. Most use the other popular platforms in different ways and for different reasons, which requires you to be picky about the social media sites you decide to be active on.
If you are on a social media platform that doesn’t get a lot of organic growth, you may need to switch up your strategy. Many small business owners see social media wins when they run paid campaigns instead of solely relying on organic content to get traction and bring actual traffic and revenue to their business. If you aren't seeing good results from a social media platform, but you know your audience uses it, try running a paid social media campaign about a specific product or service to see if that gets more results.
You can set parameters around how much you want to spend and how much is spent daily. Many of the paid options on social media platforms are fairly intuitive to use for basic campaigns. If you want something more advanced, it may be worthwhile to get a consultant who specializes in paid social media. They can set up campaigns for you so they have more potential for success. Spending money upfront may yield more revenue or profit as it runs. Running a few small campaigns can help determine whether it's worthwhile to increase the budget.
Don't feel pressured to share everything that's going on with your business on social media. Some audiences like to see that, but if you only choose to share one aspect of your company on each platform, that can work well, too.
For instance, there have been several different B2B companies, such as marketing agencies, that decide to highlight their company culture on Instagram. Because they are B2B focused, they're likely not going to attract any new clients on a platform like Instagram, but they could attract potential employees. Many people like to see what the culture is like through videos or images before deciding to accept a job. An Instagram account dedicated to your company culture could be run by your HR department (if you have one). Or simply ask employees to send you fun photos while they're working.
You can also decide to use other platforms simply as a way to share company information. Many businesses use LinkedIn for this purpose. Many business owners post on LinkedIn only when they've hired a new employee or have other business news to share, such as a new line of products or a new piece of content is now available for customers on their website.
No matter how you decide to share information on social media, make sure it's interesting to your audience and that you're not repeating the same messages over and over.
All things considered, if you're still unsure about using social media for your business, you don't have to do it. At a bare minimum, you should probably have a Facebook page for the reviews and exposure in Google search results when someone searches for your business name. Yelp and other review sites are also a good idea so customers can review your business after they've been there. But don't feel pressure to sign up for Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram, or other social sites if you are not interested in keeping the profile active.
However, something to note: If you have a business name that is likely to be copied, it may be worthwhile to at least claim the accounts so you're the owner. This is important so customers don't mistake someone else's profile for your business, or so that if you change your mind down the road and do want to be active on that platform, you have a profile ready to fill out.
Small business owners have the advantage of being more personal on social media, which audiences generally like. Should you decide to use social media for your small business, don’t be afraid to use social media in your own way to make it successful.