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Download: How Effective Is Social Media In Marketing A Small Business?
Does having some friends, connections or followers, on your social network translate into more customers for your small business? Having a couple hundreds of friends, connections or followers in your social networks, does not necessarily mean that you can leverage them for the benefit of your business.
Furthermore, whilst it is true that brands are unique, and therefore require unique approaches to marketing, the dynamics that affect marketing for small businesses are not directly comparable to those of large corporations. This is primarily due to large differences in marketing budgets.
It is rare to find small businesses actively running a paid marketing campaign on social media. Often the small businesses that market themselves on social media, rely heavily on their personal connections acquired on that particular social network. Unfortunately, these do not seem to go very far in terms of reach, and often do not permeate beyond the marketer’s personal network.
One of the reasons why relying on your personal social networks to market your business falls short, is because most of your buddies are usually not your customers. At least not in a sustainable way. Your close friends and relatives may have an interest in what you are doing in business, but more often than not, depending on the nature of your business, do not obtain goods and services from it.
Therefore, even if a lot of people show interest in your product or service offering, and give you a lot of likes on social media, they do not necessarily represent your customer base. In fact they give false hope to you as a business, that you are making progress.
The most likely way your personal friends can increase value in your social circles online, is if they can produce a viral effect by sharing and liking your product or service posts, until strangers identify with your offering in large enough numbers.
Whilst the viral effect does happen, it does so on very rare occasions, when an idea is simply irresistible and spreads like wildfire. Apart from the viral effect, the next best thing becomes making use of paid advertising on social media, in order to reach a reasonable critical mass of an audience, which is an expensive proposition for most small businesses.
In order to successfully market with paid advertising on social media, you have to have a sufficient budget set aside, to pay for reaching more people. The more people you have to reach, the bigger your budget has to be. This is easily said and done for a big corporation, but not so easy for a small business.
Furthermore, you cannot just anticipate to launch a once-off marketing campaign, and then sit back to enjoy the outcome. Marketing on social media is significantly more involved than putting up a poster at the mall. Once a campaign has been launched, it has to be continuously tweaked and adjusted, depending on feedback from observations, and this has to be carried out in the long term to be effective.
Marketing on social media is more complicated than conventional forms of marketing, because the audience on social media is seeking to make a connection with the brand they will patronage.
People do not simply want to purchase something, they want to relate and connect with the brand. This can be very hard to achieve, and only comes with experience to get right. As a small business, your marketing message has to resonate with your audience, in order to get them to participate in a social interaction with your brand.
Being a small business is being in a precarious position when it comes to marketing on social media, because of lack of brand recognition. My observation has been that, people on social media will be quick to engage with brands they have encountered before on the ground.
As a small business, it is more of a challenge to get people to identify with your brand, when they have never heard of it before. Sometimes, people will show interest in your business because they know you as an owner, and not because they have a genuine interest in what you are offering.
I often take time to look at the number of likes and comments that huge brands, with large marketing budgets get for their promoted posts on Facebook. By comparison, the level of interaction is likely to be less for lesser known brands, even if the ad spend is comparable.
Let’s face it, social media is mostly that: social in the literal sense. Most people go to their social media platforms to get their fix, which is for the most part entertainment. It is mostly about infotainment and less about getting information for the sake of gaining knowledge.
As a small business, taking your marketing campaign to social networks, your are competing with all these sources of entertainment, for the attention of your target audience, in order to gain brand recognition.
It is no secret that the attention span on these social platforms is fleeting. Individuals on social media quickly scan and scroll through content, in order to get their daily fix. And unless you are captivating enough, or compelling enough, your marketing efforts will not bear much fruit.
Rather than focussing too much on “selling” on social media, why not try a different approach. A shift in perspective can go a long way. Instead of focusing too much on the sell on social media, rather focus more on building relationships and building brand awareness.
It is also important to remember that you are, most of the time, collecting likes, which do not necessarily translate into customers. A small fraction of these likes might one day turn into customers. You should be aiming to build relationships when you carry out a marketing campaign on social media. This is where you focus should be.
Due to budgetary constraints and little brand recognition, marketing on social media should not be seen as a quick fix, for the difficult task of finding clients for small businesses. It would be more advantageous to approach marketing on social media as a long-term strategy.
Whilst organic reach helps in building relationships, it has limited reach, unless you have a huge following. I recommend using direct marketing approaches that produce more direct leads such as advertising with Google Ads or Facebook Ads and other offline techniques to promote your business.
By combining multiple approaches to marketing, you significantly increase the potential and reach of your business. Always, social media marketing should be seen with the long view. It should be understood that you are in it for the long haul. What you learn in the process over time, should feed back into generating better results in the long run.
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So informative thank you
I am glad you found the post informative. Thank you for stopping by the blog Molemi.