I recently attended a friend’s dinner party where I was introduced to her mother. The conversation went as you would expect, with the eventual (and sometimes dreaded) question, “what do you do?” being asked.
Of course, I told her that I was a content marketer, and I went on to explain what Spokal was and what my position entailed, only to find out that she was in the midst of starting her very own business!
You go girl!
Excitedly, she began to ask me a few questions about online marketing until eventually she asked about social media. But it wasn’t what I expected. I assumed she’d ask about best practices, about different platforms, about effectiveness etc. but instead she confessed that she wasn’t on any social media platforms at all, and wondered if she was missing out?
From what she told me business was going well, she was generating plenty of leads, and she was hard-pressed for time to fill in orders already.
So I think I just mumbled some statistics about how 71% of people say they’re more likely to purchase from a brand they follow online, or how 93% of marketers use social media, and concluded with a very confused “probably”-type answer.
For the rest of the week, I couldn’t get it out of my head – Was she really starting a business without any social media presence? And, moreover, was she better off for it?
I know, I know… what am I talking about? Shouldn’t I be answering her with a resounding “YES!”? I felt like I was betraying my own role as a content marketer!
But the reality is that not every small business needs, or should, be on social media.
Here’s 5 questions to ask yourself before you decide whether your small business should be on social media or not.
1. Do You Have The Time?
Social media is a lot of things, and time consuming is definitely one of them. The average American spends 40 minutes a day checking their Facebook feed alone! That’s more time than they spend with their pets.
For a small business, being on social can be a time-sink hole.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as putting up any ol’ status up sporadically and leaving it at that. Social requires some seriously thought, strategizing and commitment for it to work effectively.
So, ask yourself: Do you have the time to really get involved on social media? Do you have time to generate conversations? Share interesting content? Create interesting content?
But, if you’re honestly answering “no” to these questions, all’s not lost. Having limited amount of time for social media is an issue that many people have, and it’s resulted in their being a number of things you can do to mitigate this:
- Choose only 1 or 2 platforms that work best for your business. This is the “go deep, instead of wide” tactic which uses your time to get really good at one thing rather than mediocre at them all.
- Look into social media marketing automation. You can cut your time in half if you schedule all your social sharing in one clump, and simply set your social media accounts up to send you emails or alerts to your phone when you get a direct message or a comment. This reduces the amount of time you spend monitoring the sites, and allows you to be present on social without having to waste a whole lot of your day to do it.
Buffer and Hootsuite are great social media management tools, and Spokal also has social media management automation that flows seamlessly with your own content creation and distribution processes.
2. Do You Have The Expertise?
Of course, you don’t have to be an actual social media expert to effectively market your business on these platforms, but you do have to have a good understanding as to how it all works in general.
Social isn’t rocket science, but getting it right can be a pretty steep learning curve, especially if you’re not already familiar with it. Social is constantly changing and developing, so unless it’s something that you’re already interested in, keeping up to date with the latest news and updates can be tough.
If you don’t think you’re social media savvy enough, then it’s probably best that you don’t do social media. No presence is better than a bad one.
Again, not having expertise isn’t a deal breaker. If you think that social is for you, but don’t have the expertise to pull it off, think about outsourcing your social media management to an agency.
While it’s not unusual for a business owner to hire an extra pair of hands to deal with the online/social media side of things, you should also be aware that social media marketing agencies can be costly.
3. Can You Offer Relevant, Engaging And Consistent Content?
Ask yourself: Would your customers actually be genuinely interested in what you have to say online? Do they want to see photos of your products? Or learn about your industry? Do you have some inside knowledge that people want to hear about? Are you entertaining? Do you have something new and interesting to say?
If you can honestly and confidently answer “yes!” to all of these questions then… What are you doing here!?? Go! You’re a social media superstar!
But if you’re a little more hesitant and unsure, check out The Science Behind What People Love to Share on Social Media to get a feel for what works on social.
After you’ve done that, brainstorm a few ideas for your possible social media platforms and pitch them at some friends and family and see what they say. (Hint: Ask friends and family that you know will be completely honest with you!)
4. Is Your Target Audience Using Social Media?
The whole point of having your business on social is that that’s where your customers supposedly are. And with 2 billion active social media accounts, it’s hard to imagine that your target audience isn’t on social media to some extent.
But just because your target audience is most likely on Facebook, doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily interested in following you.
Tools such as Buzzsumo can help you find influencers in your industry. Once you’ve found them, you can look at their follower base and their social media presence and ask yourself: Is it effective? Do they have a lot of engagement and followers? What works? What doesn’t? Can you feasibly do what they’re doing? And, most importantly, can you do it better?
If you don’t think your customer base is on social media, or at least doesn’t seem to engage well on them, then you might be better concentrating on whatever is working for you instead.
Don’t create an account and leave it there to rot. There’s nothing worse than searching for a business’s Facebook page, Twitter account or Pinterest boards only to see a waste town.
Unless you’re in it for the long run (and if you’ve answered “yes” to the above answers) then maybe hold off until you can properly commit to it.
Again, only bite off as much as you can chew. If you don’t think you can handle being present on 5+ social media platforms, try just 1 and grow from there.
While I’m tempted to say that every business should be on some kind of social media platform (and I could bet that most will benefit from it!), the truth is that it’s just not for everyone. If you have any doubts, it’s good to spend some time researching your options first and seeing if your business would be a good fit.