I was surprised when I read a recent research report done by Clutch. They surveyed small businesses about their usage of Social Media marketing. The data indicate that around half of them are ignoring prospective customers by not using Social Media marketing for small business. And more than half are not investing in work on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
According to the Clutch study of small businesses:
- <20% of marketing budgets are spent on Digital Marketing
- only 53% do some work on Social Media
- only 45% do some work on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- only 25% do work on online advertising
Small businesses are slow to invest in digital marketing to acquire new customers and expand relationships with existing ones. But Social Media marketing is about inviting people to get to know your business and for you to get to know them.
Why are many small businesses reluctant to do Social Media marketing?
I have heard various reasons from small business people I have spoken with, including:
- I tried Facebook or Twitter a little while, but I didn’t get any sales from them.
- I asked my customers if they use Social Media and they said no or not much.
- I don’t know where to start – there are so many social networks and I can’t cover all of them.
- I think I have to have a website, but I don’t have time or money to spend on Social Media.
- Isn’t Social Media primarily for young people?
- If I were to advertise on Social Media, wouldn’t Pay Per Click (PPC) ads be very expensive?
Why is Social Media marketing for your business important?
- Increase your brand awareness
- Drive more traffic to your website
- Get new leads
- Leverage the trust that Social Media users have in their friends, family, and people they follow
- Extend your message with Likes, Comments, and Shares faster and cheaper than word of mouth
- Reach new prospects for your products and services that may not otherwise find you
- Provide additional differentiating information about your company, products, and services
- Put a human face on your business and let people get to know your people
- Find new connections of suppliers and partners in addition to reaching new prospective customers
- Target very specific audiences in ads based on interests, behaviors, job titles, locations, etc.
- Try out marketing ideas fast and with very low cost to see what works or doesn’t work
- Contribute to your search ranking with strong social signals that you are a valuable brand (this is likely to increase in weight over time)
As I’ve blogged before, the way people are making their purchase decisions is changing. They rely much more on online reviews and referrals. When was the last time you booked travel without looking at online reviews? They often research products and services online before they have any contact with your company. They may interact with your online information multiple times during their purchase decision as they advance through their process.
Some small businesses drop social media marketing if they don’t see any immediate increase in sales. But social media marketing is not a short-term investment. You are building a timeless presence on the Internet. You are increasing awareness and starting to build relationships that will likely pay off sometime in the future. Short-term promotions on social media with contests, coupons, and specials can drive a short-term uptick in sales depending on your organic reach or ad budget.
You may not realize that half of the world’s population has grown up with the Internet and Social Media. Yes, that’s right! 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old. They are connected, they use less and less of traditional media, and they are technology savvy. They are not kids anymore. And those in their 20s and 30s have tremendous purchasing power.
Social media ads are still an under-utilized marketing element by the majority of small businesses. With traditional advertising you are broadcasting to a very wide audience in order to reach the subset that is your target audience. Social media advertising enables you to specifically target individuals in your target audience and to only pay when the target clicks through your ad for more information. Since there is no publication or broadcasting overhead, the cost of social media ads is way less than traditional advertising. It’s also less costly than Google Adwords ads that are only based on keywords on search result pages. And how many people are like me who ignore the display ads in newspapers and on web pages. What better place to get attention on your ad than in someone’s News Feed between photos and videos of their friends and families?
How can you get started economically?
- Focus on one or two Social Media platforms that have members of your target market. You don’t need to boil the ocean and get onto every Social Media platform. As I’ve blogged before each one has a slightly different audience with different interests and demographics.
- Set your marketing objectives and strategy. Are your top objectives to increase awareness, generate leads, cross-sell existing customers, or ….? For each of the top 2-3 objectives, outline your strategy to use social media to support that objective.
- Engage a Marketing agency, consultant, or coach. If you can’t train and dedicate an employee to Digital Marketing or Social Media Marketing, then look at hiring a marketing agency or consultant to be an adviser, a doer, and an extension of your staff part-time. Depending on how much staff time you can dedicate to Social Media marketing, you might only want a consultant to be on retainer to be your coach one or more times per month. An agency, consultant, or coach will also keep you up to date on the latest trends and where to invest time and effort for your business objectives.
- Get Marketing training for yourself or your staff. If you allocate an internal staff person for social media marketing, make sure they are trained on Marketing. While almost any younger person knows how to post on some Social Media platforms, they don’t necessarily know how to do that effectively for business marketing purposes.
- Look at your Digital Marketing mix holistically. Determine how much to invest in Web Design, Search Engine Marketing, Email Marketing, Blogs, Podcasts, video channels, eBooks, Social Media marketing, and traditional marketing. Speak with an agency or consultant if you need assistance.
- Augment with Social Media advertising. Social Media organic reach is shrinking. Your posts will only reach 2-6% of your followers. Social Media is now pay to play for businesses. Different platforms will enable you to boost posts or insert ads into the News Feeds of the types of people and interests that you specify.
Let me know your thoughts and experience. Have you seen other obstacles to overcome? Are there other tips you would suggest for Social Media marketing for small business?
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