Wow! I’ve had some great discussions about whether social media is the right step for small businesses. Some have involved the ROI of social media and others questions about manpower and dedication. I believe there are some important social media marketing mistakes you should avoid. So let’s explore whether social media, as a time and activity expense, makes sense for small business.
Part of my discussion involved chats with both Norma Maxwell of InsideWebMarketing.com and Kelsey Foster of ReadyClickContent.com. Our Facebook discussion started with Norma pointing out the success an acquaintance had spending $10/day in Facebook ads to create an audience of 15,000 “fans”. And both spoke highly of the community building that goes on with Facebook – expounding especially upon its importance in business.
I argued then and I argue now that despite those benefits, social media may not be the right step for small businesses. With the exception of one thing. . .
Small Business Responsibilities
To start, time is the most precious commodity a small business owner has – and is its greatest foe. And the responsibilities required to operate successfully are enormous. Consider the marketing, operations, taxes, licenses, customer interaction, research, follow-up, signage, trash, SEO, websites, phone books, computers, HR, etc. . . there is really an infinite number of things to do and an infinite number of expenses.
And small businesses normally have one source of income – customers buying their products and services. From a week to week basis, a small business has to measure their expenses against their income – and no matter who you are if the income doesn’t exceed the expenses you go out of business. And even when the income exceeds expenses – if that doesn’t happen in a timely manner, a small business may not have the cash to pay its expenses and must shut down.
No matter how you slice the pie, there are only two ways to increase your revenue: 1. More customers OR
2. More money from each customer
What should I spend time doing?
That’s it. Building a community on Facebook can certainly increase both – but the question is how long will that take for the “community effect” to turn into dollars? And could your time have been better used another way to achieve the same ends?
Time is finite.
So a small business owner must ask him/herself right now, should I be editing and producing a new radio ad with a call-to-action that will fill my pizza restaurant tonite, or answer questions and update Facebook that may begin to fill my pizza restaurant soon? You can’t say both – because in reality you can’t effectively be doing everything.
If you decide your time is best used doing social media, then some time later decide it’s better used elsewhere – how profitable will a dead, untouched Facebook page be for you? With dates on everything, a failure to interact is one of many social media marketing mistakes.
The only way Social Media makes sense
So here’s my caveat to that (that one thing I mentioned) – and the only reason I’d agree that you can do both. Repurposing. Every owner should be repurposing their activities. Here are some examples of repurposing that could set the stage for a great social media campaign:
1. Instead of answering customer questions via e-mail, write a blog post and send the customer the link to it. Then post a corresponding link to it on your social media sites. You were going to answer the e-mail anyway, might as well turn it into a marketing activity.
2. Anytime you’re in a position to give your opinion, analysis or consult on something in your industry, film it or record it with an .mp3 recorder. You’ve then got a podcast segment, YouTube video, transcript, blog post, FAQ, slide show, etc. . . . You don’t have to use it right then and there – but you can never go back to get it later.
3. Film your crew making the dessert special for the week, building a fence, fixing a roof, doing an estimate, or even cleaning the place. Don’t spend time setting the stage with that stuff – show your customers who you are. Make every moment something you could market. Besides you were going to do it anyway, might as well make it a marketing moment.
4. Ask the news media to come to anything you can. While you’re doing your thing – they’re driving business. (And then you can save the article from the news media website, and post it to your own. You can also print it and mail it to your customers. The ideas are infinite with PR).
I don’t think social media is always the best step for small business – unless it’s truly thought out and you know the costs associated with spending time on Facebook versus calling and thanking your customers – or any of the other 1,146 things you could be doing to increase revenue. A failure to plan is truly failure to avoid the many potential social media marketing mistakes that happen to many.