As one of the leading creative agencies in Manchester we are well aware that there has been a huge buzz around social media over the last few years, especially as a digital marketing tool for small businesses. Conventional wisdom would have us believe that every business should be using social media, with a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as the bare minimum. But, should we be listening to conventional wisdom, or should we be assessing the specific benefits of social media for an individual business?
It is common for people to use sweeping statements when talking about the usage of social media for business; some say ‘it has to be done’ and others say ‘it is a complete waste of time.’ When you take a closer look, the results of using social media vary between businesses. As a social media company in Manchester, we know better than anyone that each business has its own individual market. We know that sometimes social media will not work for a specific market and that other times it will completely transform a market.
So, let us look at what the main benefits and pitfalls of social media marketing are and assess how you feel about them.
The Benefits of Social Media Marketing:
- Direct Customer Communication: Social media allows you to get in touch with your customers (or qualified leads) directly – although you may have to pay out for sponsored ads to achieve this.
- Real Time Interaction: Social media allows you to interact with your customers in real-time, using the chat feature or by replying to comments as they are made. It also allows you to make promotions live as soon as you upload them.
- Potential to Go Viral: Sharing interesting and unique content on a social media platform will help to attract attention to your business and create some buzz around it. This means each piece of content you share has the potential to go viral.
The Pitfalls of Social Media Marketing:
- Time Investment: Although social media marketing is hailed as a convenient way to get your message out to customers, as a company who offer digital marketing in Manchester we know that you need to invest a significant amount of time and energy to get results. This could be challenging for smaller businesses, as with a smaller amount of people, you run the risk of letting social media fall behind other more important tasks.
- Digital Knowledge Required: Not every small business owner has the knowledge or skills required to get the most out of social media marketing. This may mean that they use other methods to reach their customers.
- Lack of Interaction: If the person controlling your business’s social media handles does not completely understand how to gain and interact with followers to help to build a community of interested and loyal followers, you may not be promoting yourself to a large enough audience.
When we speak to companies who tell us that they have tried social media, but it hasn’t worked, it is usually due to one of these reasons:
- The Company Doesn’t Lend Itself to Social Media – There are lots of examples of companies using social media in a creative and amazing way, which is leading them to success. This is great. However, frankly, some companies have a larger appeal on social media than others. For example, Cadburys have tonnes of content centred on the delicious chocolate they sell and who doesn’t like chocolate?! By contrast, a business that repairs water pumps for a certain type of factory doesn’t have quite the same universal appeal.
- You Are Not Being Social on Social Media – If you are just using social media to sell to your customers then it is not going to work; people are likely to glaze over when they read your messaging. You need to put some time and effort into making your social media output fun, informative and interactive. Not everyone has the time for this – which is where using a social media specialist can be very helpful.
Although, it’s not all doom and gloom, we are massive fans of social media and believe that it can work for most businesses if they work closely with their digital marketing agency and take into account the following rules:
- Define your audience first – there are millions of people using social media, which makes it easy to reach people, but how do you know you are reaching the right people? Think about who your ideal customer is, what social media platforms they use, and use this information to guide your strategy of how you are going to target them.
- Set Realistic Goals – If you go into social media marketing believing you are going to be the next internet sensation, then you may be disappointed with the results. Set yourself more realistic goals, such as raising awareness of your brand, and this will enable you to set a particular strategy to achieve each goal.
- Be Prepared to Experiment – Some things will work and some things won’t – it happens. Don’t let your lack of success on social media define your company. Learn from it, move on and try something else.
Written by Paul Heaton. To read the full article, click here. MyDigiBrand is a boutique website development and digital marketing firm in San Diego, California. We help our clients create powerful and engaging online brands. For more information, please visit our website at www.mydigibrand.com.