Introducing a new feature on Aim Write Marketing
“Question Mark” is your chance to ask a question on any aspect of marketing from a consultant specializing in small business success. Send us your question and we’ll answer it privately; topics in high demand will be featured on the blog.
One of the things I hear from small business owners is something like: “Facebook! what good is it?” Sometimes it comes out as a gripe about the huge time commitment it can take when so many other things need their attention. Other times it’s a reflection on the social media management company they hired in the past. Whatever motivates those comments, what’s usually behind them is a disappointment that the business owner didn’t see the kind of results they were hoping for.
All small business marketing failures, including social media marketing, fall into one of three categories:
- Not doing the right things
- Not doing the right things well
- Not doing the right things consistently
Unfortunately, social media can check off all three of those boxes. Is it any wonder that many small business owners are skeptical or hostile to social media marketing?
There are very few universal truths in any field, although “All small businesses should have a social media marketing program” comes really close. In some cases, social media may not be a good fit because of the social media platform is not one that your target customers use. One example: Facebook is one of the social media giants. You might assume that it would be a good fit for any small business targeting a subset of the consumer audience, and usually you would be right. However, if you’re targeting the teen market, you might be missing the mark completely. Although Facebook started as a tool for college students to connect with each other, since becoming more mainstream it’s lost some of its appeal for teenage consumers – especially if their parents are using it. Snapchat or another of the newer social media sites might be a better place to connect.
Fortunately those cases are pretty rare. The vast majority of social media campaign failures happen either because of poor execution or inconsistency. Or both.
Think about social media as a conversation. First of all, that means it’s a dialogue, not a monologue. The goal is to talk with your customers, not at them. Imagine you were at a party and you met someone new. Would you spend the first five minutes after introducing yourself talking nonstop? or worse, talking nonstop about yourself? Of course not. Even if that person would be inclined to learn more about you – under the right conditions – there is no such thing as a one-sided conversation. There are names for people who do that, and none of them are flattering. The person you’re trying to impress will probably lose interest quickly, and find a more appealing person to talk to. Just like potential customers, who probably have dozens of choices available on the internet when they’re comparing their buying options.
In social media marketing that takes the form of posting status updates about the company, and only about the company. Not inviting discussion, or worse, not responding when someone comments. A lot of businesses make this mistake, and a surprising number of social media companies.
Maybe the second-worst mistake a small business owner can make is engaging on social media inconsistently. Suppose you’re in the middle of a conversation, and the other person excuses himself “for a moment.” There are other people you’d like to talk to but you decide to wait a while. How long would you wait for him to come back? Five minutes? Ten? For someone you just met? That’s kind of like only updating your Facebook page or blog every few months. People will judge you for that, and not kindly. Is your page quiet because your business is taking off, or like 80% of small businesses you’ve folded within the first two years? Rather than make a call, they’ll probably just move on to one of your competitors.
Avoiding those traps can be done, if you look at the situation correctly. First of all, do your homework. Know your customer! That means knowing what they like and what they don’t like (especially as it applies to your competitors). But also what they’re interested in aside from your business. What do they do for fun? what do they watch, read, listen to?
Once you have a good understanding of your “ideal” customer (hopefully you’ve got a few real ones to go by) marketing decisions get a lot easier to make with confidence. Notice I said “marketing decisions,” not “social media decisions.” All of your marketing should be based on that prospect profile, not just social media marketing. Like search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click advertising – or any kind of advertising – social media is just a tool. The results you get are going to be determined by how well you use it.
That’s one of the differences between Aim Write Marketing and social media management companies. Our recommendations are based in a deep understanding of our clients’ businesses and goals, and a commitment to working collaboratively to reach them. Social media is not the only tool in our toolbox – but we are pretty good at it. If social media isn’t a good fit for your business, we’ll tell you that too.