So, you’ve started your own small business – congratulations!
Now that you’ve decided on a name, tightened your services and narrowed down your target audience, marketing your business should come easy, right?
Promoting a small business can be a lengthy and frustrating affair, especially while handling other time-consuming intricacies that come with entrepreneurship. It requires a high level of finesse to balance limited resources against a desired marketing impact, and traditional marketing channels are often ill-suited to achieve this balance. Television and radio advertisements are often far out of reach of a small business budget, and a consumer preference towards digital outlets over newspapers and magazines has lessened the effectiveness of print advertisements.
Thankfully, there is one great equalizer that will put your small business on an even playing field with the kingpins in your industry: social media. When used effectively, social media provides that coveted mix of impact and cost-effectiveness that affords big growth to small businesses.
The digital marketing world loves the phrase “content is king” – but when it comes to promoting your small business, social media is king. More kinetic than print advertisements, more engaging than video advertisements, and far more budget-friendly than television advertisements, social media is the ideal low-cost, high-impact channel for small business advertising.
Where Are Your Customers?
Approximately 69% of Americans are on social media, with an average of about 7 social media profiles across platforms. No other marketing avenue affords engagement opportunities with that degree of potential infiltration, provided it is handled properly.
In essence, social media promotions provide a marketing outlet that does away with the traditional top-down communication model of more traditional advertising channels. Marketing messages delivered through social media are more dialog than decree. They are laterally oriented, meaning they promote engagement, inspection and rebuttal. While this means sacrificing absolute control over your marketing message, it also means your audience will be encouraged to interact directly with your brand.
Can You Commit to Consistency?
Having a small business doesn’t make social media a small task – in fact, it’s much easier said than done. There are a number of smaller companies who have successfully managed consistent and interactive accounts across a variety of social platforms, but this is atypical – and probably impossible – without a dedicated social media team behind it.
However, for every success story there are a hundred cautionary tales. Many companies flounder in their attempts to leverage social media, even larger corporations with marketing budgets that dwarf the total earnings of most small businesses. These companies struggle to adapt their traditional, top-down marketing approaches to the much more interactive realm of social media. A large part of this struggle can be attributed to the fact that several of the strategies and schemas of traditional marketing prove to be ineffective – even counterproductive – when applied to social media.
A few sporadic posts every week won’t cut it, either. Your social media followers value consistency, especially consistency across platforms. A successful small business social media presence hinges on regularly scheduled, relevant posts with tailored messaging for each audience on each platform.
What is the 80-20 Rule?
One of the biggest mistakes companies make in their social media campaigns is overselling. While social media does make an excellent sales platform, sales messages must be carefully balanced against engagement messages at a disproportionate rate.
Your social media efforts should entertain and engage much more often than they inform or promote. A good rule of thumb is to follow the “80-20 Rule,” in which 80% of your social media messaging should focus on engagement while only 20% should be directly promotional in nature. For example, every one social media post about a sale should be followed up with approximately four posts showcasing your company culture, posing a thought-provoking question, and so on.
From their television to their inbox, consumers are bombarded with advertisements at every turn throughout the day. The last thing they want is to be further inundated with sales messaging while seeking refuge on their social media profiles. A steady stream of engaging content helps to ensure that these ad-fatigued consumers aren’t turned off by your company’s social media marketing efforts entirely.
Does a “Like” Have a Dollar Value?
Due to the highly kinetic, highly interactive nature of social media promotions, quantifying a definitive value for your social media efforts is difficult. Even identifying the indicators of effective social media engagement provides unique challenges, and often varies on a case-by-case basis.
The vitality of your social media efforts is dependent on your engagement rate, or the percentage of your social followers that like, share, retweet, comment on, or otherwise engage with your social media posts. A social engagement rate of about 5% is considered ‘good’, but calculating what a 5% engagement rate translates into dollars is a highly subjective matter that depends primarily on the size of your audience and competition in your industry.
What is Your Time Worth?
Managing social media efforts in-house can be a time-consuming and costly endeavor. Quality content for posts must be created or curated, posts must be scheduled based on peak engagement times (which vary based on platform), customer comments must be responded to, social trends must be leveraged, and affiliate opportunities must be sought out – to name a few of the many tasks that will consume your social media team daily.
Despite the promotional opportunities offered to small businesses via social media, the investment of time and effort required to properly manage multiple social media accounts often scares small business owners away entirely – and understandably so. Most business owners count their free time in seconds, and hiring an in-house social media manager can be a significant expense.
As any business owner knows, it takes money to make money. A properly handled and targeted marketing campaign is always a sound investment in the long run. For this reason, more and more business owners are outsourcing their social media efforts to digital marketing agencies with experience handling the intricacies that come with managing a successful social campaign. A skilled digital marketing team has the time, resources, and know-how to generate engagement, attract new followers, and grow your customer base.
Social Media: The Great Small Business Equalizer
It isn’t easy being a small fish in a big pond, but with effective and strategic leverage of social media, you can still make a big splash in the digital marketing sphere. For many small business owners, social media affords a modern, high-impact, and cost-effective promotional opportunity. Regardless of what product, good, or service your business offers, there is a social strategy out there that is perfect for you.
Not sure where to get started? Chat with a member of our social media team for a full overview on what your business is doing right on social media, how your business’ social media presence can be improved, and how we can help.
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What a really spot on article Adam!
You’ve made several incredibly valid reasons reasons why any serious business owner, but especially why a cash starved small business owner and or service provider, really should try and figure out some practical ways to be active on at least a couple of the major social media platforms, like twitter and Facebook.
And you also made another excellent point, that being if you are still in fact, slightly confused about the how’s & what’s of effective social media marketing.
Then by all means start looking to outsource (at least) part of that potential money making task to expert’s such as yourself, that specialize in showing extremely timed challenged small business owners and service providers, exactly what they need to do!
This was extremely practical and well written post!
Thanks so much for sharing your proven expertise!
Thanks Mark! I’m glad you enjoyed the article.