These days, social media is widely considered a ‘must have’ piece of a comprehensive business marketing program. Whether or not your entire team has full ‘buy in’, most companies of all shapes and sizes are jumping on the social media bandwagon – often without a parachute.
Unfortunately, what they’re finding is the social media gold rush era is long over – not only are you going to have to work for it, you’re going to have to work hard. In order to succeed, businesses need to be smart and strategic when it comes to their social media marketing approach. In some cases this means recognizing that social media isn’t the right channel for them. Not sure if that applies to you?
Here are five reasons your small business should jump ship:
You think social media is free! Except it’s really not.
A common misconception is that social media is free. In theory, that’s correct. In reality, it’s completely misguided. Let me set the record straight – social media is not free. While you may not be paying dollars and cents to use Facebook and Twitter accounts, investment in resources to support and manage these channels requires a sincere commitment.
Social media platforms are also making it increasingly more difficult for companies to reach their followers without a substantial advertising budget. If you don’t have dedicated resources to support and drive your social media presence, it’s time to reevaluate whether or not social should play a role in your marketing strategy.
You’re talking at people, not to them.
Once upon a time, social media was purely about building relationships through engagement. While that’s still the fundamental principal of social, times have changed. How? One word: marketing. Traditional marketing comes from a ‘one to many’ approach – it worked well for TV commercials, billboards and radio ads.
Unfortunately, many small businesses and brand marketers have taken the same strategy and applied it to social media, creating a dynamic of ‘talking at’ their communities rather then engaging them in a two-way conversation. The result? Crickets. If your business isn’t prepared to engage in conversations on social media, you’re missing the point (and the reward).
You don’t know where you’re going, so any road will take you there.
The very first question you should ask yourself as a business owner is this: “What is our goal for participating on social media?” If you can’t come up with a crystal clear answer to this question, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked this question of potential clients, only to receive responses like “We’re not sure, but we know we need to be on social.” That’s just not going to fly. If you don’t have a clear objective for your social media program, it’s guaranteed to stray.
You have a brand identity crisis.
Branding, in the context of social media, is much deeper then making sure your graphics, logos, and colors are consistent – it’s about delivering an authentic brand persona that audiences can relate to and engage with. If the foundation of your brand is weak, it will surely ring false when people interact with your business in a social setting.
You’re a control freak.
The nature of social media is inherently organic – that means you can’t control all of the messaging, reactions, and responses. Businesses that try to exert control over social interactions by deleting comments, ignoring feedback and serving up automated messages are destined to fail.
Think of it this way: if you went to a networking event and only talked about yourself, repeated company messages, and ignored other people’s questions – would anyone want to talk to you? No. The same principle applies to social media. If your business wants to be successful in this space, you need to loosen the reigns and engage with people on their terms – not yours.
Social media can create wonderful opportunities for businesses to engage in a new and meaningful way, but it’s not for everyone. And that’s okay. It’s better to realize it before you invest too much time and energy going down the wrong road.
Spend some time brainstorming to understand exactly what you want out of a marketing program, and delineate the best tactics to get you there, whether it’s in traditional advertising, in-person events, sponsorships, or email marketing. At the end of the day, it all comes down to creating smart marketing strategy.
Megan Conley is the Founder & CEO of Social Tribe, a social engagement agency based in San Francisco. Megan is passionate about engaging businesses and their customers in the social world, and thrives on building amazing relationships with clients that spur creativity, curiosity and fun! Connect with @Megconley on Twitter.
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