For any small business, having a presence on social media is fast becoming essential, rather than being nice to have. But for the uninitiated, navigating the murky waters of online marketing can be intimidating. Big questions loom, like “Is this right for me?” Here are a few of the myths—and realities—behind some of the most common obstacles people face while on their way to building their social media marketing strategy.
Myth: Social media is only for brands with a large customer base
“When I see Skittles has 23 million Facebook fans and Southwest Airlines has 1.3 million Twitter followers, I can't imagine how I can compete.”
Reality: It's not about the numbers! Fans and followers can be misleading metrics.
While both numbers are impressive feats, your brand is more than just a scoreboard. Fans and followers can be misleading metrics. It's all about the ratio. What really matters is conversions and/or brand advocacy per fan. If you have a small fan/follower base, but most of them buy your products and talk to their friends about you, you're still a social media rockstar who's doing a lot better than many of the bigger brands.
If you solely focus on keeping score with the number of fans that other brands have on social media, you can lose sight of your goals.
Myth: Social media takes a lot of time
“Creating posts, tweets and pins can be a resource drain. Finding content and images to post can take a lot of time, effort and energy if you don't have a strategy and you're not using the right tools.”
Reality: Creating social content doesn't have to take all day
One of the easiest ways to build your business socially is to open up to your fans and followers. Instead of trying to manufacture content, ask yourself, “What's already going on in my business?” Fans may be interested and excited about events that might seem commonplace to you and your staff.
McDonald's, for example, showed how they photograph their Quarter Pounder on YouTube—and generated 7.1 million views in the process. The best part, the event wasn't even a lot of work for them. The photoshoot was already planned, so they just brought an extra camera to shoot behind-the-scenes footage. An insider's view can create a unique perspective that followers appreciate…and appreciation breeds loyalty.
Using the right tools can help you save time as well. Instead of trying to constantly post, tweet and pin, it's much easier to gather content and schedule its release on the Internet.
Myth: Social media is only for funny brands
“Funny videos and photos get a lot of attention on the Web. Many businesses try to create their own viral content—but many (most) end up failing miserably.”
Reality: Social media is not just a network of people sharing jokes
People come to social media for a variety of reasons. They are looking for value, and humor is only one kind of value. If your brand isn't fun or funny, there's still a place for it in the social media environment.
Oracle, for example, is a business-to-business (B2B) computer hardware and software company, and their Facebook posts are not funny at all. And yet, Oracle has a large, active Facebook audience. What gives? The reasoning is simple. They provide value to their fans through industry news and helpful information.
Starbucks is an example of a business-to-consumer (B2C) company that also steers clear of humor. The Starbucks home page is filled with nostalgic photographs and highlights from community service projects. They know their target audience and they realize humor doesn't match the brand—yet social media is highly relevant to their brand.
Myth: Social media cannot be measured
“You can't know what the whole cost or benefit of any social campaign is because the cause and effect are muddled with other variables. And if you can't measure return, what can you measure?”
Reality: Measuring your marketing efforts has been an issue since the dawn of advertising.
The old advertising question, “What's the value of a newspaper impression?” can now be translated to, “What's the value of a fan?” Goodwill, awareness, and intent to buy are all difficult to measure, yet almost every business strives to improve them through various marketing efforts.
Unlike traditional marketing, with social media, you can measure the effectiveness of your ad, especially if you have an online business. Link tracking is one of the most effective ways of measuring the results of your social media campaigns and content. You can also track the number of redeemed coupons and promo codes you share through social channels.
At the same time, direct measurement only captures a snapshot of what your social media efforts are doing for your business. You also need to compare social media activity with sales or customer service numbers to get a more complete picture of the effect social media is having on your business. While you want to be careful of other variables, it's still important to look at the correlation between social media and your business's other metrics.
Developing a strategy for success
While social media is not a magical cure-all, it is a valuable tool for any business to build customer relationships. Every business should consider the role social media in their marketing strategy. You might be surprised at how connecting with your customers one-on-one can create lasting loyalty.
GroSocial offers a suite of web-based tools allowing you to easily build and track social media campaigns, make your Facebook and Twitter pages look awesome, and much more. To get a free trial of their industry-leading social media marketing tools, click here.