Is social media a viable marketing strategy for small business?

Category: Online Marketing

The topic of social media is always a hot one. We keep hearing from people (not in marketing) that this is a great way to market your product and services, especially if you are on a budget. We question where these ideas come from and why people have it in their minds that this is something every business should be doing.

As marketers our job is to look at things from two perspectives, the first one being if what you are doing delivers results and the second one being if time and money is being well spent, or the ROI. Inevitably social media was a topic that had to be deal with. So for what it is worth, here are some basics for you to think about before you start spending time and/or money on social media.

The reality is that social media takes time to build, very much like SEO it is an ongoing process that always has to be there. What this means for a business owner, is that it will never be automated, it does and will always take time out of your day. Without a strategy, many profiles and businesses lose track of what they are doing with social media and what their goals are. So the message being sent out through these channels are inconsistent. Most people do not use social media to make purchasing decisions, so you have to base your strategy on what people use the media for. As an example, when is the last time you logged on to Facebook or LinkeIn to find a new computer? The answer is probably never, what you may have done on the other hand. Is you found the computer you liked and then asked using this media about experience and feedback on the product you are thinking about. Or you may ask around on these forums what people would recommend you look at. Either case, your brand is still the most important thing. Either way, people are not going to recommend you, just because you happen to be on Facebook or LinkedIn, you just make it easier for them to think of you if you happen to have a message out there at the exact time someone asks.

The other aspect we have to look it is how we drive traffic to these mediums, meaning how are people finding your social media profiles? This is probably the most important question when it comes to social media. Unfortunately there seems to be a trend where traffic is being sent the wrong way! Here is what we mean by that and why we say that. For most businesses (should be all) the goal is to drive people to make a purchasing decision or to take some kind of action to generate the lead. As we said above, those decisions are not made on social media, yet most business have re-direct to these social media sites from their website and actively try to funnel people there. This should in fact be the other way around, social media should be advertised in a limited way on your own website, but you should be trying to drive people to it from your social media. Think about it, if you had a choice, would you rather people visit your Facebook page or your website? Then where do you think you should be directing the traffic and which one should you use for what?

The reality is that social media seems to be the single most overrated marketing tool available. So much so that we have seen people focus so much on it that they forget to focus on what really matters online, their own website. Latest research shows that executives and directors of company value this media far more than the consumer does, which is not a first. This means that the company thinks being on this media is far more important than it really is.

Are we saying that you should not be using these venues? Absolutely not, all we are saying it, be careful how you use it and remember that consumers haven´t changed, the only thing that has changed is how they ask for and look for things. So make sure you strategy supports that and make sure you are driving traffic the right way.