The 4 Lies Small Businesses Are Told About Social Media
When I teach the class I have on digital marketing at Georgetown, we inevitably talk at length about the role of social media for a number of businesses. For many reasons, it’s not always a straightforward conversation. Different businesses can have completely different experiences. And social followers, after all, don’t always translate into paid customers. Moreover, in recent years, we’ve seen a number of companies actually abandon their social platforms, creating a ghost town as it were. As a small business, you should get more clarity on what social does and doesn’t do. Hence, we’ve created this post on the four lies that are often told about social – as well as what’s really true. We hope you enjoy it!
Lie No. 1: All Companies Need to Be on Facebook
With nearly 3 billion users on Facebook – about 37 percent of the entire world’s population – it’s likely your audience or potential customers (regardless of the business you’re in) can problem be found on the platform. On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer. It’s a free distribution platform for your content after all in front of so many people! But when you look deeper, it can get a bit cloudier.
Why is that?
Leaving aside the ad question, for now, let’s provide an example for organic Facebook. Even if your company manages to get a number of followers, Facebook is known to limit the reach of your posts – it’s estimated that only 2 percent of current organic social media posts will actually reach your own followers. If you manage a small business channel, with say 500 followers, that means any given post you make will only likely reach 10 or so people. In some cases, a lot of work may have gone into that particular post, either for you or your staff to reach only 10 people.
The Truth: Facebook can certainly be great for some businesses, especially a few categories:
- Retail or business-to-consumer (B2C) companies (especially those that have really visual products or services)
- Publishers (those who can create viral-type content)
- Influencers (those whose content gets shared because it’s likely they’re great-looking or have some sort of talent people want to see more of).
However, for the average business-to-business (B2B) company, it’s good to be a bit more circumspect. For example, it’s likely most B2B audiences are indeed on the platform, but a few questions to ask yourself: Will the type of content I provide on the platform play well enough to get the reach I want? Do I have to also engage with advertising? (A question that is probably true for most businesses here as well.) In the end, it’s good to keep in mind that Facebook is more like a play-to-pay space rather than any free distribution platform for most businesses. It also might be that your best audience is on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or another social platform that’s better suited to your business. The bottom line: If you’re going to support any social media channel, Facebook or otherwise, make sure it’s worth it.
(continued below the guide).
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Lie No. 2: You Have to Post Multiple Times Per Day on the Platforms to Be Successful
OK, let’s flesh this one out a bit. In general, it’s a good idea if you have the resources to post multiple times per day. Why is that? Because all the major social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn) will generally reward those who contribute content most often. Also, given the way some of the feeds work, you’ll want to show up in front of audiences when they are checking in. Doing it multiple times per day will help increase the chances your post gets seen, boosting your brand awareness and hopefully growing your following. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the best recipe for success, especially those businesses with limited resources. After all, not every business can manage posting multiple times per day, much less every day. And, in the end, businesses should most certainly prioritize those activities that increase the end goal – typically revenue – for which social may not always be the best immediate-term driver.
The Truth: Many small businesses do just fine in social posting just several times a week, combining that with a targeted social advertising campaign or boosting strategy. When you think about it, you can pay someone to spend the time to produce a lot more posts (or simply use that money or time savings to boost those posts in front of the right people). In a lot of ways, you can extend the reach of your business better in the latter case.
Lie No. 3: Social Platforms Will Drive Immediate Revenue
A number of businesses that are on social platforms understand this core reality: Social is not a channel that will drive revenue – at least in the immediate term. There are exceptions: direct-to-consumer retail businesses or companies that sell impulse-based purchases (clothing, jewelry, wearables, or inexpensive products etc.) can do quite well. But for the most part, companies should look at social media (both organic and paid) as a branding and awareness opportunity. Let’s say that again: A branding and awareness opportunity.
The Truth: So, you’re saying I put all this effort and budget into organic and paid social and it doesn’t pay off? No. That’s not quite right either. Social does play a role in supporting your overall marketing goals. But it may not be a direct effect. Primarily, social media is great for your company to stay top-of-mind among your audiences but it’s not really structured to drive direct revenue outside of the cases we’ve illustrated. That’s because people on social platforms aren’t there simply to look for your products and services. Conversion is typically something that happens at some point later where, after seeing a post or ad by a company in social, an individual then goes to search for that company, product, or service. That’s why many companies see a number of conversions in analytics from, say, organic search, but not necessarily from social media.
Lie No. 4: Take Advantage of Social Media Because It Is Free
Again, let’s break this one down a bit more. In general, yes, the major platforms (at least from an organic posting standpoint) are all free to use. And you can certainly distribute your content free on those platforms to your followers. But here’s the rub: To do it well, you will likely need to expend money or time to a.) Produce the content (text, image, graphics, video) that will drive solid engagement, and; b.) Create the posts themselves along with following best practices when implementing such as hashtags, tagging, and other techniques.
The Truth: As we’ve illustrated above, social media takes time. Do you have the time to do it well? It may be that you don’t. Indeed, many businesses have abandoned social channels in recent years simply because the ROI wasn’t there. What’s key here for any small business is figuring out priorities in terms of the time you, your staff, or your agency spend on these efforts and agreeing upon the right goals and measures. If you can produce content that resonates with audiences, you absolutely should take advantage of social. If not, we’d suggest there are probably better uses of your time and money.
We hope this has been helpful. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation around any of our social media services, including organic posting or advertising. Our mission, as always, is to help you excel in digital marketing. https://marketingniceguys.com/contact-us/