18 Mar Small Business Skeptic’s Guide to Adopting Social Media
Not A Social Media Person?
“Look, social media isn’t for my small business. I don’t have time to wade through pictures of people’s lunches and cat videos! Besides, my customers don’t hang out on social media anyway!”
Yep, we’ve heard that. And for entrepreneurs who daily put heart, head, soul, and life savings into their small businesses, we get it. You’re doing what you’re good at. You’re not and don’t want to be a social media person.
But if there’s a tool out there that can help grow your business, you’d better take a hard look at it before casting it to the circular file. And I’m not talking about the social media of a decade ago. I’m talking social media now. If you’re not utilizing social media, you’re missing opportunities.
- According to AdWeek, more than 88% of American companies market on social media.
- 96% of small and mid-size businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy (Social Media Examiner, 2017)
- Add to that 90% of marketers report social marketing has increased exposure for their business, and 75% say they’ve increased traffic. (Ignite Visibility, 2018).
Skepticism is healthy. In its best form it prompts you to act on your doubts to ask questions to get more information. That’s why you’re reading this blog. Take my hand. Together let’s examine why social media is a critically important marketing tool for small businesses.
Social Media Can Help You Better Communicate With Customers.
You use email, snail mail, phone calls, and your website to communicate with customers. All of these have their place. Adding social media gives you a real-time platform to engage with customers where they hang out. You don’t have to be on all of the social media platforms; focus on the ones your customers use. Facebook is a good start, for 68% of US adults use that platform. Want a more specific user study? Take a look at the 2018 Pew Social Media Fact Sheet.
Social Media Helps You Better Understand Your Market Niche.
Need to better define your target market? Social media platforms are a great place to secure your niche. On social media platforms, you can glean a lot of data on age, location, language, spending power and preferences, interests, and stage of life. Plus, it’s a great place to express what makes your business the best fit for that niche.
Social Media Helps You Build Your Brand.
The key to building brand is less about product and more about how you make people feel. When a proprietor knows you and your tastes, shares your core values, and is known for giving back to the community, you shop there. Small businesses are personalization experts. But you’re competing in a digital world. In that world, people still need to feel connected to community. Social media can help you do that for your customers. And when it comes to personalizing service, small businesses have some advantage over the big players.
- One small business survey found that 53% of consumers prefer shopping at small businesses because of personalization.
- 75% of consumers report they are more likely to buy from a retailer that knows their name and purchase history.
When you’re a small business owner, it’s important to build why you do what you do into a consistent brand message. This helps you create your niche. And, it’s why one of the first things we do with clients is help them with consistency basics across platforms. Logos, graphics, color, and style need to be instantly recognizable on all platforms. You also want to ensure all communications are consistent with your brand’s philosophy and story. And make sure your posts are visual treats!
Social Media Allows You To Showcase When Your Brand Does Well By Doing Good.
Consumers, especially millennials, now expect companies to be good corporate citizens at both a local and global level.
- A 2018 Futerra survey revealed 88% of 1000 UK and US respondents wanted brands to help consumers improve sustainable lifestyles.
- 75% of millennials say that it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit.
- 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer.
Social Media Helps You Connect And Grow Stronger Networking Relationships.
When you’re a small business owner, networking is a critical way to connect with others in your industry and generate leads. Networking is also essential for nurturing B2B relationships with non-competing brands. But the days of germinating those relationships at conventions without social media are pretty much over. Social media gives you a forum to establish yourself as a valuable resource and helps open doors for those convention meet-and-greets.
Social Media Enables You To Improve Client Retention By Keeping The Brand Fresh In Your Customers’ Minds.
It can cost up to 5 times as much to attract a new customer as it does to nurture and retain an existing one. Although customer experience is key to having customers return, social media is a perfect way to keep touch with existing customers. The more interaction you have, the more trust you build. Treat your customers like trusted neighbors. Social media gives you a way to not just talk at customers; on social media you can talk with them!
Social Media Opens Research Doors.
Social media provides you entrée into all kinds of discussions and groups that allow you fly-on-the-wall observation.
- Use tools like Google Alerts to keep tabs on any mention of your brand, competitors, or industry.
- Leverage tools like Mention, Hootsuite, and Buzzbundle to monitor relevant campaigns and slogans.
- Respond thoughtfully when your brand is mentioned, whether it is a positive or negative mention.
- Gain key insights into your competition to learn what works for them; make those strategies yours.
- Gather important data prior to a product launch.
- Develop specific buyer personas.
- Improve your customer service by transparently resolving service issues on social media. By doing so, you learn customer likes, dislikes, and if other customers had similar problems. This pays off. Customers who have had issues effectively and quickly resolved end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company.
Still got my hand? Or are you setting up your Facebook account?
Reasons Small Businesses Avoid Social Media
I never try to convince somebody of something without recognizing fears and concerns. Let’s talk about those:
“I’m afraid of wasting time and money.”
I’m not going to blow warm air up your skirt or pantleg: social media done well takes time. But it’s not time wasted. And once you grow into social media, you’ll discover automation can solve many of your time problems. You can start out small. Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are all free to use, while LinkedIn and other sites offer free services too. Paid advertising on social media still offers the best value for money on the market.
“I don’t want other companies stealing my customers.”
Posting on social media puts your brand out there in the big public ocean. It’s only natural, then, for you to worry about competitor sharks. But focus on data and not emotion. In 2018, only 6 people were killed by sharks world-wide. Likewise, your existing customers are unlikely to swim to new waters if your products and services satisfy their demands. Also, remember, with all these new tools at hand, you’re a shark, too.
“I’m afraid my employees will misuse social media.”
Look, no small business owner wants to go viral because some employee posted a Pepe the Frog meme on the company Facebook page. But that nightmare is preventable. Hire good people and train them. Have a clear company social media policy. Limit who can post on your social media pages. Don’t let worst-case scenarios keep you from the social media rewards that await you.
“I’m afraid of abandoning marketing strategies that have worked in the past.”
Adopting social media is a big dog step for your company. But adopting a digital strategy doesn’t mean you have to abandon campaigns and methods that have served you well. Social media can help you support and expand those proven strategies.
In an accelerating market environment, what you’ll find is that social media will play a greater role than you ever imagined. Offline marketing and other small business digital marketing strategies (email and your website) are still important, especially locally. The more you integrate all into one message and strategy, the more success you’ll have.
“I don’t want to get into something I don’t know about.”
It’s scary when faced with learning something new when it appears everyone else knows all about it. Especially something like social media with its own psychology and metrics and acronyms—phew! I hear ya! Been there. But really, did you understand everything you needed to do as a small business owner when you started your business? No. You learned along the way.
“I don’t even know where to start…”
We get where you’re coming from, because we’ve been there and have struggled with some of the same issues. Social media isn’t going away. Best thing to do is take a friend’s hand and step into that social media ocean! We’re with you.