Reality Check: Does Social Media Make Sense For Your Business?
At FirstPage Marketing, we often get asked about social media marketing and whether or not it is worth it for our clients’ businesses. Given that many of our clients are B2B (business to business) companies, the question of whether or not social media can be leveraged as an effective marketing tool is slightly more complex than B2C (business to cunsumer) companies. With B2C companies and social media, the answer is almost always, “yes.” With B2B companies, there are some important items that should be acknowledged and addressed before putting together a social media strategy.
At FirstPage, we love working with clients to develop social media strategies that makes sense for their business. In order to ensure that our clients are getting the best value from their digital marketing efforts, we ask them to answer the following questions before investing in social media.
Q1: Are my target customers on social media? If so, which platforms?
Social media marketing isn’t about targeting the biggest audience; it’s about targeting the right audience. There are far too many B2B businesses out there, spending thousands of dollars each month on social media marketing when their customers aren’t active on social media. Also, before you start any social media marketing, you should first determine which social media platforms your customers are on. Facebook is usually a good place to start but what about Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat? If your customers aren’t active on any of these platforms, then spending time trying to reach them there is a waste of your marketing budget. Think of it like this: you wouldn’t advertise your products/services in the local newspaper if your customers didn’t read it.
Q2: Does my company have the time to manage social media properly?
Ask yourself this question and then ask it again. And again. Social media takes time and money. Time is one of the most frequently overlooked factors in a successful social media strategy. Take a moment to think about all of the time required to research, plan, write, edit, schedule, track, and engage. In that moment, you will have only scratched the tip of the social iceberg. Remember, there is a big difference between using social media and using social media properly. Social media is not a communications tool that can be used sub-standardly because businesses that put forth a mediocre effort into social media will receive mediocre results, at best.
A sloppy social media plan can sometimes actually damage a company’s reputation more than benefit it. Think about when you walk into a retail store with a question about a specific product. What happens if nobody is around to answer your question or what would happen if you were simply ignored? You would likely leave the store and take your business elsewhere. This is the brick and mortar equivalent of companies that do not take the time to respond to direct messages, comments, and inquiries through social media.
Remember, social media isn’t about talking at your customers; it is about talking WITH your customers. Make time to engage in conversation with your customers, including responding to questions, comments, and messages in a timely fashion. You wouldn’t ignore someone who came into your retail store, so why ignore someone who tries to start up a conversation on social media?
Q3: Does my company have the budget?
Social media platforms are free, but don’t underestimate the cost of implementing a proper social media strategy. Even an organic social media strategy requires both time and resources, all of which have a cost associated to them. With top social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, transitioning into a paid playing field, businesses will need to start investing in boosted posts and promoted ads to achieve the reach and results that were once possible.
When budgeting for social media, take your entire marketing budget into consideration and ask yourself if the money required to manage a social media plan could produce a better return on investment if directed towards other marketing tools like search engine optimization, digital ads, or a new website.
It’s easy for business owners to point at other companies, like West Jet, that are having big success on social media and say, “I want that for my business.” Unfortunately, most companies don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars, like West Jet, to invest in their social media marketing. We’re not saying it costs a fortune to achieve success through social media, but there is a cost.
Q4: What content do we have/need to be successful?
One of the biggest challenges standing in the way of a successful social media strategy is content. Not every piece of content is life changing, but it should be engaging and equate to some form of impact. Engaging content can take many forms, including:
- Blog articles
If your business lacks quality content for social media sharing, don’t worry about it because not all social media content needs to be your own. Many successful social media strategies leverage other people’s content when relevant; however, when doing so, always remember to provide the proper credit to the original source.
Q5: Who will be in charge of implementing social media?
This is something that often gets overlooked. Pro tip: elect a social media champion in your company. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this individual is entirely responsible for social media, but there does need to be a certain level of accountability for things to run smoothly. This will help to eliminate the likelihood of customer messages and comments going unread or ignored.
Even if your company chooses to outsource its social media implementation to a digital agency, there still needs to be a social media champion in place to act as a point of contact. This person should be tasked with updating the agency with company news, events, and content that can be shared through social media.
Tips for social media success
Now that you’ve spent the time asking and answering the questions above, you’re free to embark into the world of social media for business. Here are some helpful tips to keep your social media implementation on track:
- Be realistic: don’t compare your company’s social media performance to other company’s in entirely different industries. This is dangerous and can cause you to stray off path. Remember, these companies have different budgets, resources and goals than you. More importantly, they have different customers and their customers have different demographics, interests and needs.
- Start small: it’s easier to increase your social media presence as you gain momentum. Trying to accomplish too much too soon is a recipe for disaster.
- Be patient: there is often a stigma associated with social media, where people believe that everything they post has a high potential to “go viral” and result in millions of dollars worth of revenue. This is extremely unrealistic. Be patient. Successful social media marketing takes time.
- Create a social media brand guidelines document: this will outline your brand voice on social media, how you will go about communicating with customers, and an emergency plan in case things go south.
- Share your story: every business has a story and social media is a great tool to share that story.
If you have questions about social media marketing for businesses or how to put together an effective social media strategy, get in touch with us at FirstPage Marketing. With social media, sometimes you just need someone to point your company in the right direction and show you some simple tips and tricks. Social media is a great tool for connecting your business with current and future customers when implemented properly.