Social Media for Small Businesses in 2014

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

A white paper on CRM and social media, published a few years ago by Avanade, stated, “Apathy, fear and uncertainty – more than costs – are preventing companies from formally adopting social media technologies.”

info1Every day, small business owners are bombarded by the same message: you need to incorporate social media into your marketing mix to be successful. There is a constant stream of advice and tips on how to win with social media – whether coming from trade magazines, professional associations, news outlets, or infographics – like the one above.

And, then there are great stories. Take Melt Bar and Grilled, for example. The restaurant opened as a Cleveland local favourite in 2006 with a fun, interactive website and a Facebook page. Today, Melt has opened its fifth store and has garnered attention from The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, USA Today, Fox News, The Travel Channel’s Man v. Food, and a number of other national media platforms. The best part is, the restaurant credits its success to social media – now tallying over 62,000 Facebook fans, and 13,000-plus Twitter followers.

So, what can we learn from a business like Melt? The lesson here is about taking risks. It’s about becoming an early adapter. It’s about overcoming fears and taking the risk to engage with consumers on social media, even when only a few others in the industry are doing so.

Our clients no longer ask us why social media is important, or whether we’ll be posting pictures of kittens on their Facebook page. They get it. They understand the value, and they’re prepared to wholly commit themselves to leveraging social media.

You might be waiting for the right moment to launch a social media program — but social media and your customers are not waiting for you.

Of the many businesses we talk to, some common themes have emerged in regards to barriers stopping them from moving forward with social media marketing. These include:

  1. Organizational readiness;
  2. Unreasonable expectations for ROI; and
  3. Lack of resources and expertise.

It’s time to deconstruct these barriers, and get more small businesses on social media.

Organizational Readiness
Despite evidence that an increasing number of customers, prospects and business decisions makers are using social media to support buying decisions, many small businesses can’t make the leap.

social media organizationFirst and foremost, you need to have senior management commitment. You also need to assign an internal champion that cares about it, and is vested in, spending time to make sure social media is delivering value.

Don’t undertake social media if you don’t really care about it and don’t think it can add value. Facebook is littered with thousands of business pages that were started with good intention and have little or no content. It’s worse being on social media and not having current content, than not being on social media at all.

Unreasonable Expectations for ROI
We fully understand the delicate balancing act between managing short goals and building for long-term growth. Limited time and resources means focusing on activities that will drive immediate results. But the two objectives don’t have to cancel each other out.

social media expectationsGrowing your social media community takes time, and new leads or sales won’t pop up just because you created a Facebook page. Trust is earned through authentic and consistent posting and engagement on the social channels. Like a good friendship, a good social media strategy is well worth the investment. Social is where relationships and brand value develop – not necessarily where customers click and transact. Just like a best friend, your social media fans will endorse you and introduce you to their social networks.

Five tips on how to measure ROI of social media

Lack of Resources
According to a survey of small business owners by Constant Contact, marketing related activities represented a significant amount of management time on a daily basis. Over two-thirds of respondents said there was not enough time in the day to focus on high value marketing activities.

social media time managementBut the same respondents said that despite unreasonable demands on their time, they would be reluctant to bring in outside help due to cost concerns. “But if they take a look at the monetary value of their time, and compare that to the time spent on activities they’d prefer to outsource, like social media, there may be occasions when outsourcing proves more cost-effective.” said Christopher M. Litster, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Constant Contact.

This is where we can help. When our clients outsource their social media marketing initiatives with us, we become a strategic partner. We spend the time with you to learn about your company’s brand value proposition, customer profile, competitors, voice, tone and strategic goals. This guides the narrative of the content created for your business. By outsourcing your social media to us, you are not only coming in below the cost of fulltime hire, but you are freeing up your time so it can be focused on the key activities of running your business.

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