DIY Social Media for Small Businesses - Tips to determine if Social Media is right for you!
Social Media is a necessity for most businesses. In 2019, that's a fact. Almost every marketing expert will tell you that it's a great, free, way to be seen.
When I started in social media management in 2011, it was a different story.
One thing that most people don't consider though is the time and commitment it takes. Business owners who don't have access to marketing professionals may not know the demographics that each platform is best suited to, and may not think to ask the right questions.
For example, are Millennials still on Facebook? Have they migrated to Instagram? Do men use Pinterest?
An experienced marketer will be able to tell you the answers to all of those questions and more (yes, but Gen Z isn't. They use Instagram in conjunction with Facebook. Only about 20% of Pinterest users are male as of 2019). But, that doesn't make it easy for Small Business Owners.
Worse still, a lot of marketing is inaccessible to smaller companies. Even larger companies with the budget to approach marketing don't necessarily know a good investment from a bad one.
So, how do you make Social Media affordable for the average business owner?
1) CONSIDER YOUR INVESTMENT - As a small business owner, have you ever figured out exactly what your time is worth? There are a number of ways to calculate how much you should be paying yourself per hour - and once you've done that sit down and calculate how long (realistically) it will take you to manage your social media and marketing. You may find that your time is better suited to other activities, or you may find that you can give yourself an hour or more per day committed to building your online community. You may also find that Social Media Management is something that you can outsource to an employee, or something that you should be outsourcing to a marketing professional or agency.
2) DO YOUR RESEARCH - So, you've carved out the time to get social media done - here come the questions: Who is your target market? Are they on social media? Where? How do you connect with them? So, start Googling! Spend the time to find out who your target market is. Research their behaviour. Become a part time sociologist, part time psychologist, part time private investigator. It can be really fun to figure out exactly who your customers are (I may be biased, I do this for a living and love it) and where they hang out online!
3) ADS OR NO ADS? - When doing your own social media management, every social media platform out there will try to sell you on buying advertising from them. In fact, Facebook made over $54.5 Billion Dollars in revenue from advertising revenue in 2018. Are Facebook ads worth your dollars? Do you know how to properly target your audience? Would Google Ads give you a better bang for your buck? Consider whether you have the time, money and experience to develop an online advertising campaign. If you don't, that's not a problem - but avoid spending your money on "boosting" posts on Facebook - it's better to do that when you understand how to calculate exactly how they've helped your brand!
4) BUILD RELATIONSHIPS - It's called "social" media for a reason. Believe it or not (contrary to what you might believe after reading 1,2, and 3) it's not just sales platforms! Social media is a place to build an online community and truly connect with your audience and customers. You need to remember that social media is a two-way conversation. If someone comments on your post, reply. If someone sends you a message, write back. If they ask a question, answer it. Wherever possible, try to interact with and engage with your customers. This is how you can build a successful online community filled with people excited about your business!
5) THE CHEERLEADER EFFECT - A great but also scary part of social media are the reviews - but you can use them to your advantage! Ask faithful customers to review your business online. Respond in a positive manner to reviews (even negative ones!) to show your great customer service skills. Going back to BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS, the members of your community become cheerleaders for your brand (thus, the cheerleader effect). In the modern world, "Word of Mouth" takes a few clicks on a cell phone, and all of a sudden your brand is in front of 150+ new people (the average number of Facebook friends a person has). Give your customers great online service, and amazing interaction and you'll build brand cheerleaders, who support you and what you do. Better yet, they'll feel a connection to you and an investment in you. Strangely enough, this is how Canadian-pop-stars like Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes got popular. Both started on Social Media apps (YouTube for Bieber and the now defunct Vine for Mendes) and grew small but passionate followings by engaging with their audiences. Over time, that audience became invested, so as the talented artists skyrocketed, their fans became cheerleaders for them, which got them more attention, etc. Well cultivated relationships grow fantastic cheerleaders.
CONCLUSIONS There is so much more I could write (and may write in subsequent blogs), but the main thing is - think about your time, and what it truly takes to build a good social media following. If it's something you can do internally, great! One thing that we don't believe is debatable is whether or not you should "do" social media. Every brand in 2019 SHOULD have an online presence of some kind. It helps build trust, and gives the public visibility into who you are and what you do. You can opt for a platform that's more professional (LinkedIn) or more public (Facebook), but you should be on at least one platform! If there's something you have questions about, at Stephens' Consulting we're happy to give you some pointers in a free 30 minute consultation!
And, if you decide to outsource, did you know that our Social Media Management packages start at just $25 per week? (plus HST & set-up fee if required) They're flexible in terms of the network(s) we'll post on. And, we try to include extras (if you have us just updating your Facebook, we'll throw in a free ad of up to $15 in your first month to sweeten the deal! - Until the end of summer at least!)
For those who prefer to "do", we prefer to teach! - Our "Social Media Starters" classes start at $75 per hour, and/or you can join our Members' Only Facebook group to ask questions at any time - it's just $10 / month! And we include links to resources to help you, recommendations on software to buy - or download, and so much more!