Our heart goes out to the small businesses: the goals are always ambitious, the resources are always limited, and there is a great deal of business uncertainty. So much so that there is hardly time enough for your own self. Add to it managing intricate and sensitive things like social media, and you feel like packing your bags and taking a year-long sabbatical.
Not too long back, everyone was excited about the rise of social networking. Over-excited, perhaps. People were talking about it everywhere; everyone you knew or didn’t know had a profile on most of the social networking sites; and all the businesses scrambled for a share of the pie in what might be called the Gold Rush of the 21st century.
But just as every gold miner in California was not successful in the mid 19th century, so it is today. In the absence of big budgets to hire expensive campaigners and strategists, the small businesses took it upon themselves to explore, learn and improvise. They spent no time creating Facebook pages and Twitter profiles, and the fan bases started to swell.
Very soon, a funny thing started to happen . . .
Businesses noticed that they were spending a lot of time (suggested read: Outlook Money) in posting and “engaging” with their users, but the impact on business was not encouraging at all. To be honest, in most cases the business impact was zero. Soon the excitement wearied off, and the communities created with hard work and frenetic zeal went to sleep. Today, if you happen to do a survey among small businesses, many will say they are dissatisfied with social media and are most likely not going to use it to generate leads.
But is something really wrong with social media? Looking at what the big brands are doing, it doesn’t seem that way. Yes, they have larger budgets and more manpower, but they are also paying attention to the fine print. You can do the same, and revive and grow your business returns from social media. It’s possible.
We don’t promise to reveal some secrets buried deep within the treasure-vaults, but to highlight these common-sense, surefire methods of doing better in social media:
- Content is not just a block of text: Garbage in, garbage out. So it is in social media. Many businesses forget that regularly asking obvious and boring questions on your Facebook fan page is not engagement by any definition. Do you create high-value, high-impact, original content for your fans?
- Exploit the power of email: We agree that most of the email is span these days, but even then, email delivers better return and carries more credibility than any other communication source. Are you using email marketing? Are you integrating social media in it? If you need help with email marketing, we at Octane are right here!
- Track social media traffic: It’s important that you track the traffic sent in through social media, so that you can map the effort put in to the returns you get. Using good tools to analyze your social media campaigns—even the good old Google Analytics will do nicely—is more important than you might think.
- A bargain they can’t refuse: Many businesses forget to announce the special offers on their social media channels, thinking that these are not searched that often. Don’t fall for that mistake. Give solid, attractive offers to your users, and make them loyal to the website.
- Optimize for different networks: The same content and the same layout and execution are not going to work on different platforms. For example, while Facebook allows you enough room to expand, Twitter demands you to be concise and interesting. And it’s completely different if you are marketing on Digg, Quora, and other networks. You need to optimize your content and strategies for each of these.
Did we hear someone say it seems like a lot of work? Yes, you’re right. And that’s one reason companies usually have a dedicated social media manager, or they outsource all the work. But the simple truth is, if you can spend time creating value for users, tracking your investments, and learning from your mistakes, there is no limit to how much you can do.
Are you a small business facing problems with social media? How are you coping with them? Do you need help with email marketing? Let us know in the comments!