You own a small business. You’ve heard that social media is a great way to start promoting your product or service and that everyone is using it to grow their businesses. That may be true, but there are a few things you haven’t heard about the downsides of using social media as a brand.
It’s cheap or free. Social media marketing is low cost and often free. Is it true that you get what you pay for? Traditional marketing, such as print media, radio and TV, costs substantially more. In addition to the cost of creating an effective ad, you must also pay for the actual spotlight. Big companies spend thousands of dollars on traditional advertising. Don’t you want to mimic them and advertise traditionally, even if that means spending money on marketing that may not be as effective?
It doesn’t target everyone. Social media marketing doesn’t spew your message at everyone in the audience. Recent Facebook news feed changes mean that a smaller percentage of an audience sees an organic post. So, if you pay for advertising on any of the social media platforms, you don’t get a “spray and pray” approach. Online tools mean that you advertise to a more targeted, interested customer and, with the right buyer personas, convert more sales for each dollar spent. Pay hundreds for a radio spot, and everyone listening will hear it — and you may capture a random buyer who doesn’t fit your typical buyer personas.
It’s more instantaneous. Another point when considering social media marketing is that it provides instant feedback. A poor advertisement can light up social media better than a good ad. Traditional marketing doesn’t tend to have the same kind of response rate. That means you won’t know until you are well into a marketing campaign that you have missed the mark. Don’t you want that sense of adventure of not knowing how your marketing is going?
Social media requires more places for you to manage your customer base. Brands see many conversations on social media. This includes anything from answering questions to customer feedback and ratings. Did you know that 29% of customers go to a competitor if they are ignored on social media? Perhaps, by avoiding social media, you can avoid this.
Social media marketing doesn’t require extensive education. Anyone who wishes to use social media to market a product can do it with a little research. It doesn’t require training or a marketing or graphic design degree. As a result, you could have an employee working on your advertising who doesn’t (gasp) have a degree.
Your competitors are using social. Isn’t it better to take the road less traveled? Just because your competitors are using social media and engaging with your potential clients doesn’t mean you must. Just because 52% of small and midsize business (SMBs) post on social media daily, and 94% post at least monthly, doesn’t mean your small business should.
It changes constantly. Facebook isn’t the only platform that continues to readjust its algorithms. Each platform tends to make fairly consistent changes. Not only do the platforms continue to change, but your online audience changes. Users continue to grow in their expectations, and what worked last month may not work next month.
It may grow your company or brand awareness too fast. According to a report by Nielsen, “60% of consumers researching products through multiple online sources learned about a specific brand or retailer through social networking sites,” and 53% of active social media users follow brands. Some may consider brands that take advantage of this trend to be cheating or taking shortcuts. Ultimately, if you use social, it may mean more sales, which means more work, hiring more employees and increased payroll expenses.
Social media marketing can grow a company fast. But owning a small business is — and should be — a lot of work. It requires you to conquer challenges and pushes your skills to the limit. Don’t cheat yourself out of the joy that comes when you get a new customer after years of hard work, sweat, blood and tears by taking the social media marketing “shortcut.” It will likely deprive you of the bitter fight and the stress of growing your business slower and more painfully.
Let’s Get Real: Social Media Marketing For SMBs
Joking aside, as someone who runs the social media efforts of a company, I see it as a powerful tool that any SMB can employ. From basement e-commerce websites to Amazon sellers, social media is often the catalyst that helps to create brand recognition.
Yes, it can mean more work. Social media requires that you monitor and respond to customer inquiries promptly. That means someone must be available and checking messages often. And using social media advertising means that you’ll need to stay on top of new requirements, trends and data — and learn how to create and manage ads. Luckily, hundreds (if not thousands) of free tools and programs exist that allow those with zero design training to create visual, beautiful posts. Even platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have advertising interfaces that are relatively easy to use.
Which SMB doesn’t want to save money and specifically target those most likely to buy their product (instead of spewing their message to everyone)? To be effective, you must develop customer personas. Because your targeting is improved, social media marketing may translate into better conversions.
In conclusion, if you feel that cost correlates to success, then social media marketing is not right for you. It will provide you with a more targeted audience, instant feedback on which avenues and media garner the greatest responses, and allow you to be more nimble and to pivot around successful campaigns. These are common benefits of social media marketing. One intimidating factor about social media may be that although anyone can do it, it can take some time to learn and perfect. But that isn’t any different from traditional marketing — and you may skip the high-priced campaigns of a traditional ad agency.