Are you a small business owner and overwhelmed by the way social media has changed the way of marketing? Do you suddenly feel like you need to jump on the social media wagon, but uncertain on what to do? It’s okay. You are not alone. Social media can be quite intimidating for some, and can become a tremendous headache trying to keep up with it all while running your business at the same time. Additionally, it is something that one really needs to invest time in or pay someone that actually knows what he or she is doing. Facebook, Google +, Tumblr, Twitter, and the list goes on. It’s really hard to keep up with all of them, and as soon as you think you’ve got the game down, you get hit with Pinterest! Ridiculous, I know. So, how do you identify which one is best for you?
I recently attended a workshop in New York hosted by the Women’s Venture Fund- a non-profit organization that helps women of diverse backgrounds establish thriving businesses in urban communities. WVF offers training, small business loans, and a network of business advisors to help women reach their business goals. The workshop’s topic was Marketing Your Business Online; I was there to serve as a facilitator with another girlfriend of mine, who was a small business owner herself. Social media is something that comes pretty naturally to me, and as a marketer and digital strategist, I am always curious to see how other people use these platforms in regards to marketing, so I was really excited to be part of this. During the workshop, different questions about online advertisement came up, such as how to use Google places, Google Ads, and so forth. But when it came time for social media, the expert panel kept getting the same questions from many of the women in the room: “how should I use social media for my businesses and what type of strategy do you recommend?”
One of the experts in the panel, who worked with a large digital marketing firm (I forgot his name or exactly which one it was) replied, that he just simply couldn’t give them the answer to that because every business is different. When it comes to marketing, one thing to understand is that every business is different; therefore a strategy that may work for a restaurant may not necessarily work for someone that is trying to market their medical practice. This is something many business owners still don’t get. So, rather than talking about the right strategy here, I am going to point out five things you should NOT do when thinking of starting a social media campaign.
1) Do not jump on every social media platform because everyone else is. First you need to ask yourself if the platforms you are using are helping you reach the appropriate target market. Is this new platform helping you deliver the right message?
2) Don’t set up a social media page and let it just sit there. I constantly run into people who start social media pages that start off okay and then lose their momentum because they get too busy and can’t keep up with it or don’t have a strategy. Before you do this, make sure you have a strategy in place and set up an editorial calendar that will keep your strategy organized.
3) Don’t hire an intern to take care of your social media campaign because you are trying to cut budget. Just like many other labor intensive jobs, social media is too. It takes a lot of time to put together a well-developed campaign; therefore this is something you want to hand over to an expert. Putting aside a small budget for this is imperative in any business marketing campaign.
4) Do NOT start another Facebook profile and start adding friends. I tend to see this quite a lot, and I always wonder if the businesses jumping on the social media wagon are doing their research first. Instead of starting another personal profile for your brand, start a fan page. This will decrease the chances that people do not accept you. If you think about this, why should someone be friends with a brand? If I like a brand I become fans of them voluntarily, but I do not put them on a “friend list.”
5) Do not expect that people are going to just start following your fan page and just blast out content only promoting your brand. You must engage and follow people in order for them to become a fan of yours. Social media is about socializing, not just promoting.
Social media and digital marketing is something that is here to stay, and avoiding it is simply impossible. Welcoming it, embracing it and taking the right measurements is all we can do, so if you are a small business still trying to figure it all out. I suggest you don’t make the same mistakes as many do and save yourself a headache, just outsource it so you can focus on what you do best. Lastly, do not FORGO social media marketing. We live in a world where most people are getting their news from their Facebook news feed and Twitter handles, dreaming of their next big buy with the help of Pinterest, and sharing relevant information, pictures and carrying significant information through the world of Google. If you’re a business doing this, you may want to think twice and start strategizing.