We can’t believe the amount of content shared targeting small business that rhapsodizes about the endless rewards bigger brands are generating with social media marketing like Toms, SAP, Cisco, Intel, SalesForce, et al.
Much of this content is disingenuous at best and the absolute wrong marketing strategy for many small businesses. Many of you do not have the marketing resources, staff and/or technical expertise to create these types of social media campaigns!
We don’t claim to have all the answers - but we’ll try to identify some topics that get bandied about carelessly with some associated recommendations.
Content Hype Meter
- The endless hype about the joys of using Facebook to generate immediate high value return with: A) the “wonder” of on-board tools and apps: B) sharing organic updates and getting significant ROI. It’s a false line on the horizon - Facebook’s go go glory days are in the rear view mirror. Success on Facebook necessitates targeted ads (it’s an Ad Platform) sharing well researched content with a granular understanding of how to drive engagement (shares and likes) on the platform. Requiring some level of sophistication in marketing and related customer service integration. Know your reach will only be about 15% of your Fans with organic status updates.
- Not touching on the importance of having an experienced community manager on staff and ignoring the cost factor (staffing up) for hiring same. Data is exploding across the web and you need a great community manager who can curate content, writes well, can run a Facebook Ad Campaign and with some CRM knowledge as well. Expect to pay a good community manager $40-60K per year, assuming you can find a good one.
- Ignoring how important technical expertise required for social media marketing. Your biz must understand the required technical intricacies on each platform and stay on top of an evolving feature set.
- Standing up a “business page” on Facebook can be done in 60-90 minutes; but, adding plugins, tweaking settings, measuring ROI on Facebook and via other apps, setting up an Ad Campaign can take significantly greater amounts of time.
- No reference to conversion metrics for social media traffic versus organic traffic via content marketing activities. Yes, social traffic does convert well for many consumer facing brands but for most B2B brands social traffic does not convert well, unless via Twitter or LinkedIn. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and/or Vine traffic drives significantly lower conversion metrics. Attention spans are dropping and today’s smartphone enabled consumers and professionals don’t have a lot of patience.
- Telling brands to jump on multiple social media channels simultaneously to better leverage how fragmented the web is becoming. This is not practical for most businesses: start small on one social platform, make a success of it and go from there.
- Not letting you know barriers to entry are rising: social platforms are noisy and growth has slowed on Twitter and Facebook.
- No recognition of the importance of curating and sharing great content across social media platforms: long and short form, stellar images, ebooks, WhitePapers, videos. Selfies may work for celebrities but not for most SMB brands. Recognize content sharing is platform agnostic: it’s everywhere and anything and has to be well curated.
- Free is not “free” on social media platforms: there are burdened costs for each platform: community management, content development costs, feature sets are evolving and connectivity with cloud apps/services requires some sophistication, contacting customer service can be daunting if not impossible for some of thee platforms like Pinterest.
- One of our favorites: “how to do social media in ten minutes a day” - doable but marketing ROI for most brands is not going to be significant. Yes, it has worked for a very small minority of users on social media networks; but, for most of you it will be an iterative process with fans/followers counts building over time.
Your Best Marketing Strategy
- Ignore the sex and sizzle associated with social media until you stand up a blog that speaks to customers, with 30-50 blog posts in place; then, start on one social channel; for B2B that’s Twitter and LinkedIn for B2C: Facebook (with an associated marketing budget).
- As above, when your content strategy (blog) is in place select one social channel and create an engaged audience. Don’t try to establish a presence on 3-4 channels simultaneously unless you have staffing in place and a marketing budget that matches your “platform reach.”
- A great web site is the core of any social media marketing strategy: well designed, great content, smartphone accessible, integrated calls to action, analytics in place, on-board sales funnel, stellar images and functional menus.
- Email marketing still delivers wonderful returns for small businesses. It may have fallen out of favor but it’s still a great way to connect with and build rapport with customers.
- Be a brand with a solid persona identification (who is your target market?) - every start-up from Dehli to San Francisco knows how to analyze who their customer is and then builds out outbound marketing around this target.
- Stellar syndicated content may generate much better marketing ROI than social. Regardless, you can’t “do social” without great content.
- Don’t get on the wrong channel: Facebook is great for consumer brands; but Twitter and LinkedIn deliver 5-10X times more traffic and leads for B2B brands.
- Create short and long term goals: web site traffic, followers/likes, promote events. Short term are 60-120 days; long term goals: are six months to a year.
- Create great content that resonates with your target community.
- Get everyone on board with the strategy.
- Have some personality but if your on Twitter or LinkedIn your customers aren’t going to care about “selfies” on vacation; save these for your personal account.
- The most important social media marketing strategy is a blog: don’t get on any social channel unless you have a blog in place.
- Start slow and don’t expect to get overnight traction across the social web. It’s gonna take time and sharing great content.
- Authenticity and engagement are success drivers.
- Pay it forward on social channels when/where you can. That’s been part of the “social culture” going back to CompuServe days and still relevant. People on these social channels are paying attention to what you are doing.
Behind Every Great Marketing Campaign Including Social is Identifying your Brand’s Persona
- Where does your user “live” in GEO targeted and digital sense?
- What are income, levels, marital status, likes, dislikes?
- What problem are you solving for them? (B2B and B2C brands)
- Does your content map to their profiles and is it shared on the right social channel(s)?
- Are you creating a meaningful brand experience for your optimum persona? (“I like doing business with……”)
- Have you taken a hard look at your direct competitors to help you identify your competitive position?
- Have you identified who the “super personas” who are influencers in your market are? How do you reach them?
30K Foot Review for Busy Execs
- Great social media campaigns take time, technical expertise and some level of marketing sophistication.
- Creativity with content and images helps your brand stand out in a noisy world.
- Test engagement metrics and retest on a continual basis.
- A small engaged audience is better than a large non-engaged audience: we block 10-15% of our Followers on Twitter based on zero engagement via their accounts. Just broadcasting!
- We love Facebook and its inherent ability to deliver great marketing ROI. But know it’s a Ad Platform disguised as a social network.
- Not all traffic is created equally: social traffic can vary significantly. B2B: Twitter & LinkedIn & maybe G+ B2C: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and/or SnapChat
- Make sure someone on staff is technically competent or you have an outsourcing partner or agency to help with some of the back end tech heavy lifting.
We don’t have all the answers but hope this post helped to fill in some of the gaps. Got questions let us know on Twitter or comments. Deeper dive check out our Newsletter.