Much has been written about how small businesses can use social media campaigns to achieve objectives such as sales and brand awareness increases. It’s easy, it’s free, and doesn’t require much time or effort, right?
Wrong. As a marketing consultant to small businesses, I’m constantly talking to principals about the importance of marketing, and the results it delivers. In these discussions, I always ask about social media. Not surprisingly, the responses vary from “Yes, we have a comprehensive program,” to “What in the world is social media?” A more common refrain: “I just don’t have the time, nor do I see the value.”
In actuality, most small firms are clueless about social media. In fact, the vast majority with programs are doing it incorrectly and inefficiently. I can count on one hand the number of small firms I’ve encountered that have effective social media initiatives and are generating solid results. Where’s the disconnect?
Execution, as it is with most marketing tactics. Here are the most prevalent social media pitfalls, and what small businesses can do to avoid them:
1. Develop a plan. Without one, failure is likely. A company needs a framework with objectives, audiences, and tactics to make it work.
2. Commit and invest. These programs require both time and resources to be successful. Social media’s not really free, although businesses can limit spending by planning ahead.
3. Do the basics, and do them well. A small business doesn’t need a presence on every platform. Begin with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and use these heavily and consistently. Consider adding others, such as Foursquare or YouTube, later.
4. Integrate profiles with other assets. To drive traffic to and interest in a company’s profiles, they must be integrated with every single marketing asset: Website, sales collateral, print/e-mail newsletters, print ads, etc.
5. Track results. This is the only way to know if it’s all working.
Social media is a powerful channel which small businesses should use and leverage daily. Follow these steps to optimize your efforts in this evolving medium, add value to existing marketing programs, and create some serious ROI.
Keith R. Pillow, APR, MBA is president and CEO of Caddy Marketing and Communications, Inc., a full-service marketing consulting firm which works exclusively with small- and mid-sized businesses across multiple industries. He possesses almost 20 years of experience in the corporate and agency domains, with a specialization in corporate communications and product marketing. For more information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.caddymarketingonline.com. Keith is also on Twitter via @keithrpillow.
- Top 25 Most Useful Social Media Marketing Blog Posts of 2010 (windmillnetworking.com)
- Small Businesses Embrace Social Media (pcworld.com)
- Social Media is a Hot Topic at 2011 CES (marketingpilgrim.com)