The Most Common Small Business Social Media Strategy: None at All

A lot of small businesses are using social media, but few have  a clear strategy with measurable results. At the risk of generalizing, the average small business social strategy looks a little something like this:

  1. Throw up a Facebook business page
  2. Send your friends an email asking them to “like” your page
  3. Start bombarding your subscribers (fans) with updates, mainly about your company and it’s offerings
  4. Perhaps experiment with a paid Facebook campaign, quitting shortly after for lack of results
  5. Conclude that Facebook, Twitter and other social sites “don’t work” for your business
If your social media strategy contains some or all of these elements, you’re not alone.  As the following infographic from Intuit outlines, most small businesses approach social media with no budget, goals or dedicated personnel- a surefire recipe for poor results!  I’ve taken the liberty to breakdown several of the metrics displayed in this survey and add my semi-colorful commentary below:

 

Why Small Businesses Use Social Media

  • It’s inexpensive
  • Easy to use, requires little time
  • Their customers are on social sites
My thoughts: Like any marketing campaign, social media can be expensive or extremely costly, depending on the goals and returns on investment. Taking a few hours to post your latest products on your wall can be a serious waste of time and money, while spending a thousand dollars on paid ads that drive qualified customers to your business may be the most cost effective thing you’ve ever done (marketing wise).

 

Small Business Social Media Goals

  • Connecting with customers
  • Visibility
  • Self-promotion
  • Getting news out quickly
My thoughts: Only the first goal listed makes sense to me. Social channels are great for staying in contact with existing customers, no doubt.  But the real value of the “socialsphere” is it’s ability to facilitate discussions.  These discussions allow you to reach and engage with your audience, potential partners and influencers. Your goal should be to build and nurture relationships, turning strangers into fans and fans into customers (and customers into referrals, reviews and renewals, but this is a different strategy). You can’t do this with a one-way broadcast. How’s this for a goal: Increase sales!

 

Who Handles Social Media

  • 74% said no one
  • 12% full-time employee
  • 8% part-time employee
  • 6% consultant
My thoughts: The lack of time and resources devoted to social media tells us that most small business owners simply don’t see (or haven’t measured) the value of social channels as sources of direct revenue. As we cover in our Free Marketing video Course, a good content marketing strategy revolves around providing valuable content to your target audience on social media sites (and elsewhere).  This is a proven, simple and ROI-positive strategy that takes dedicated resources to execute.

 

Top Social Sites For Finding Customers

  • Facebook (86%)
  • Youtube (71%)
  • Twitter (60%)
  • Linkedin (55%)

My thoughts: No news, here in that the “big 4” are mandatory social channels for most small business owners. This is true simply because these spots are  likely where your customers are hanging out (some of which for 3 or more hours each day!).  However, never assume.  Depending on the niche your business serves, I recommend you test other social sites, especially discussion forums and groups. Keep trying to find sites where high concentrations of your target audience hangs out online.  Oh yeah, try Google+ too. It’s here to stay (for now).

 

Other Small Business Social Media Tips

  • Use social media to get social – Join discussion groups, follow infliencers who already have report and authority in the eyes of your audience.
  • Add value and stop pitching – The shortest route to more fans and customers is giving value first and asking for action (subscribing to your list or buying a product) later.
  • Syndicate your content to social channels – Use a tool like Hootsuite to manage social sharing and engagement. Whenever you publish a blog post, video or other piece of content you think your audience will love, spread the word and syndicate your new nugget of information-awesomeness to your social audience.
  • Measure your results– Use Google analytics to gauge how many visits and conversions are resulting from social channels. Without hard metrics, it’ll always be tough to tell which traffic sources are working and which ones should be pruned back or eliminated completely.
Here’s the infographic from Intuit.com:

More small businesses than ever are turning to social media to generate new business and connect with customers. With over 9 million small businesses on its platform, the most popular social network for building brand awareness is Facebook, which just unveiled its new Timeline format for businesses.

There is no doubt that social media has become an essential marketing tool, but many small businesses are not taking full advantage of its potential. Click the image for an enlarged view of our infographic showing how small businesses can better leverage social media networks like Facebook to create new opportunities and reach customers.