Without being offensive and large risk of ticking-off all the social media “gurus” on the internet, social media doesn’t work for everyone, especially some entrepreneurs, startups and SME’s.
I have seen quite a few who have screwed up their social media marketing plans and sometimes do more harm than good with the way they get the content out into the web. I often get questions from my friends in the entrepreneur circuit about why they are suffering with their social media marketing and how can they build up an engaged large social following.
Firstly let’s take a look at some of the things that can send you down the road to disaster and what you might want to avoid.
The internet is a wealth of knowledge and everybody has a different point of view and opinion on how your business should be leveraging social media to drive your traffic and increase sales. To be fair much of the advice sounds good. Develop and plan your strategy, execute and measure the campaign, A/B test, tweak and optimize, measure etc. And not forgetting the dozens of software providers in the market who can help you do all this.
But just for a minute lets slice this up. What exactly do you need to do to set up and deliver a social media “strategy” for a small business or new company?
Ok so let’s imagine you’re interested in launching with Facebook, which many of the gurus wont advices especially if your B2B, many will say Linkedin, twitter or Pinterest, or perhaps even a bunch of others at the same time. You might start off with a basic strategy with a budgeted marketing spend of say USD 150-300 per month on your acquisitions “getting new fans” then say an additional few hundred dollars on promoting and boosting posts to those fans.
Sounds easy right? Well, now you have to get an employee to help take care of that, who then either has to crate content or find content worthy of the selective Facebook crowd. I have been down this road and costs can soon add up to $500 per month of that employee’s time.
So now, let’s say you’re spending around $1,000+ per month for something which isn’t being done that well and it’s not your employees fault they aren’t professionals, which means your ROI is awful. Now in addition to this you are only using one social network. You would actually be better off hiring a tele sales company to cold call 1,000 people for the same price.
Cost of social media marketing companies
Ok, I understand… entrepreneurs, startups and SME’s should look at outsourcing their social media marketing to help keep overhands down and to increase their ROI. However have you looked at some of the costs of these services, it soon puts that out of perspective and a non-option. I recently did some research on several professional and credible agencies to compare prices and services, the lowest cost came in at $3,000 per month. One of my friends started his own business a few years ago, his average turnover is approximately $500,000. Around 50% of that is spent on staff salaries, 20% on materials and about 10% on fixed costs. That leaves the business with around $100k. So know he is supposed to spend 36% of what’s left on the lowest package available for social media marketing?
No one likes your page or is interested in what you post
Say you’re a construction company or maybe you’re a plumber or IT technician. How many people do you think will click like on your page because you’re cool and hip? Are you going to spend money a bunch of money on making funny viral Youtube videos? You will want to sell your product or services but you will have to focus on conversations. You have to always think laterally “outside of the box” to generate compelling messages and stories that are engaging and sharable. Who has time for all that?
Should small businesses and startups just ignore the social channels until they have matured?
No way, but you can use them in free way that can give direct benefits to your business. When I worked at a marketing agency, one of my old clients used to use Facebook for her customer support. She simply tells all her own clinets and customers to like her page on facebook and then answers their questions. Given she is a health and fitness expert and nutritionist which means she gets a lot of questions.
Did you know that Udemy the online teaching platform actively uses Facebook as its main teacher’s community forum? Even to the point of providing test coupons to faculty members are all managed through a single Facebook group page. Benefits are that people are simply on Facebook more often than they check an email or go to one particular website. Even now that they are no longer a startup or SME, they still use the same model that worked to help engage their user base and keep them locked into their content stream.
Other small businesses may not be able to do that. If you build custom homes, for example, then you might only have 3 customers per year. In that case it is probably better to use your profiles for social proof.
Perhaps think about other online marketing mediums first
I am not saying that social media marketing won’t work for you or that it’s going to be too expensive to even get started. But that it’s not going to work for everyone and some business might struggle to get off the ground. Instead, you might wish to consider alternative online marketing mediums that are designed to sell your products and services such as SEO, SEM or PPC. There is plenty of scope to substantially grow as startup or the average small business in these areas and then expand your social media marketing once you have a bit more momentum.
And yet, it does not all begin and end with the creation of a social page. Whether one has decided to open an account with the most marketable social network or not, the opportunity to build relationships does not begin so soon after. Like any other relationship, the social networks have to be nurture too.
So how do we get your Social Media Marketing Back on Track, here are some key tips to get you pointed in the right direction:
Firstly, Just like with the normal daily and physical interaction, people need to spend time building on a better rapport via their social media profiles on the Internet to be to remain interesting to their audience.
Be Virtually Present
All kinds of relationships need an assurance that a relationship or connection actually exists. Though there is no physical relationship, social networks require their users to constantly update their profiles and statuses to retain a list of followers. This is the basic ingredient in creating not just a list of followers but trust through constancy over the net as well.
It is not enough that you have a Facebook account or a mobile Twitter account. You have to do more than that, tick interests, choose links and make an update at least once a day. Friend requests must be answered as soon as possible in order to give out the feeling that you are open to the idea of being friends and effectively connection.
You can save a lot of time by automating your posts. Work smarter not harder, just spend a few hours to plan your weekly content in advance. Perhaps select a Friday afternoon when it’s less busy and do your research. You should think about what’s trending in your industry or service space, look at the news and media to plan these articles that you want to reshare for auto publish on your social media over the next five – seven days. Try buffer or hootsuite to quickly forward plan your content sharing by date and drip feed your posts.
Curate content don’t create it
Content curation is a highly effective inbound marketing strategy. If you are bootstrapping your business or you simply don’t have the funds or skills in-house to create dedicated unique content for your business, think about curating instead of creating! There are a number of great tools out there that can help you to do this, a couple of good ones are storify.com, paper.li, List.ly, Scoop.it and flipboard.com Even Pinterest is a curation tool.
The promise of social media is the enhanced way of communication: two-way interaction. Therefore, in order for people to follow you on your social page, you must be ready to interact. You must not merely watch as your friends, likes or followers list build up but rather at least make an effort to react to your page’s activities.
After a friend request or follow, take some time to be the first one to say hi, or better yet, like their posts or follow them back too. By being responsive, the other people will feel an open reception and will nurture the feeling for a long time, it could even lead to a follower and recommendation. Twitter has a lot of good auto engagement tools on the market right now
If you are on the social network to build relationships, being reactive to other people’s activity will earn you good points for noticing. If you are on it for marketing, the same concept applies, only it will earn you more money. Therefore, to be on different social network needs work.
Be Profile Savvy
Do not leave your profile to chance and never assume that because you are visible that they will immediately add you. People can reject requests too, you know so you better be ready to sell yourself over the Internet. Your profile need not always show your face, it can always reflect your interests too.
Other people use a profile that reflects their choice of music, and such impresses other people who like the same genre and it will make them check out your page once in a while. The important thing is you have to be the one to lure people to your page.
Stay away from weird images or pictures that can be too offensive. Remember, you are on the social network to garner attention and not to shun it.
Watch Your Content
First of all, what you post is what gets your web page the attention. Whatever social networking site that you are on, you must always bear in mind that what you put in it reflects greatly on how you see yourself. Though some would argue this point, the things, the updates and whatever content you plaster on your wall matters.
If you upload images, videos or words that seem callous, people may see you as a bit of a fool. If you go in heavy, some may stay away from you because of the drama. You must know how to gauge the situation and study the feedback after you have placed something on your facebook page or tweeted out.
A little bit of negativity will not hurt but it will not gain you followers or likes. So that may defeat the very purpose of you creating an online profile, right? Marketers must always be on the safe side and on social networks, people are all seeking for the same thing: attention.
Your content will tell a lot about you and surely, it will get you some attention. It just has to be the right kind of attention so that it will profit you in a better way.
The Internet is filled with pretentious people and because there is no way for people to actually confirm all your claims, you can say anything you want in order to impress. But in reality, false stories will take you nowhere. The same goes for business, you need to ethical in your approach and don’t overstate yourself. Remember your want to build social proof of your services and get your audience to endorse your work or business.
Sometimes, if you are not being true, you will easily slip and reveal your true colour. When this happens, not only will you lose face but because it is a social network, your reputation or worse still your company may be put on the line.
Potential friends and customers need to feel sincerity and saying some things that are not really reflective of the real you can end a promising relationship.
If you want to increase the traffic towards your site, you must take some cues from experts. This is a proven way of enhancing your chances of adding friends, visits, followers and even sales. Although we have established that some costs of professional services can be out of reach, on the other hand there are professionals and consultants in the space who do provide some advice and tips for free or a more cost effective solution such as online training, ebooks and video courses.
Understanding how people got so many likes and followers before you will not only present a challenge but can also be frustrating when you don’t see the results you wished for. However you can short cut your way of gaining attention and “growth hack” your social media marketing a lot faster and effectively if you have the right process in place.
Social networks are all about getting attention and having others talk about your page, business or services. There are a lot of DIY articles over in the Internet as we established earlier, however you need to really filter carefully or you will easy become overwhelmed. If in doubt seek out a mentor or someone that you can ask questions and get some actionable advice from.
Get On a SKYPE Call With Me for 30 Minutes For FREE – Pro Bono
You know that whole idea of giving back? Well, I figure I haven’t done enough of that lately. So, I came up with this idea:
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do somewhere around 20-30 pro-bono telephone consultations on skype. I’ll get on the phone/skype with you for 30 minutes, and you can tell me what’s troubling you about your social media marketing. I’ll then give you some help and suggestions specific to your exact situation.
Oh, and did I mention that I’m going to do it for free? No sales pages. No opt-ins. No questionnaires.
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, telling me your biggest frustration right now then I’ll contact you. Or you can reach me on email email@example.com or via my skype ID “richard.santoro.” I will take a brief look at your website, and then we’ll schedule a time to chat.