So you've arrived at work today, determined to figure out why your social media efforts simply aren't paying off. There are no enquiries coming through, no new sales, in fact very few conversations to speak of at all.
Two hours later, your coffee is cold. You've gone over everything and you just can't figure out what the problem is! So that's the inspiration for this blog post - to help everyone out there struggling with generating social media results to understand the reasons it's not working out for your small business (and therefore the actions you need to take to turn things around).
Let's take a step back and think about social media in its simplest terms. As a business, you'll be successful on social media if you can i) reach enough of the right people and ii) convert those people into enquiries, candidate applicants, sales, etc. So fundamentally your social media is failing either because you're not reaching enough of the right people, or because you've not cracked how to convert that reach into end results.
With that in mind, here are 4 mistakes I see small businesses like yours make that harm either the reach of your accounts or your ability to convert reach into results:
Let's take a look at each in turn.
Our ability to generate results from social media is directly linked to the number of people who are exposed to our messages. You are most probably going to have your message seen by huge numbers of the right people if you crack one or more of the following approaches:
The majority of businesses trying to get results on social media fall at this first hurdle, because their messages simply aren't ever seen by enough people to produce results. If you need to get 100 people to your website to make 1 sale, the numbers clearly don't stack up if you have 200 followers and the majority of them never click on any of your promotional messages.
Which brings me nicely onto the second major downfall of businesses trying to get results from social media. Think about being sold to for a minute. Which business are you most likely to buy from - the one that endlessly cold-calls you, whose pushy salesperson really starts to irritate you... or the one that you came to know about through a friend who recommended them? The second one wins hands down, right?
Well social media is no different. The more you focus on pushing out sales messages on social media, the less effective you will ultimately be. Instead, focus on being fun, helpful, entertaining or valuable to your target audience on social media. Win over friends and brand advocates for your business. Once your target audience start seeing your brand in their feeds because people they know have shared one of your posts, the chances of generating sales are significantly increased. Once you start having conversations with people, your probability of making sales skyrockets. So focus on sparking re-shares and starting conversations instead of being overly promotional. Your results will be transformed.
The most successful businesses we've seen on social media have developed a clear conversion funnel and test and perfect this continuously. Whether they're trying to hire people from social media, or generate an enquiry, or make an online sale, they've discovered that the surest way of this happening is to guide their ideal prospects from first point of contact to taking the desired course of action.
Let's say you run a wedding planning business. Historically you may have had the greatest success in winning new clients by getting people who are going to get married in the next year to hop onto a free consultation with one of your team. Let's say that 1 in 3 of those calls turns into a bride and groom who hire you to be their wedding planner...
Most businesses on social media would see the opportunity as being to advertise their wedding planning business and hope that enquiries result. But the far more effective route is to find ways of consistently uncovering all the conversations taking place on social media about wedding planning - and then join in those conversations. Once part of the conversation - and once you've helped people a little bit via your social media replies - you're then going to experiment with different ways of dropping into the conversation that they'd be most welcome to sign up for a free consultation if that'd be helpful...
Every business is different, but you should get to the point where you know that if you start X number of conversations on social media each week, that typically results in Y people taking up the offer of a free consultation and ultimately Z people actually engaging you to be their wedding planner.
From my experiences, though, 99% of businesses on social media haven't developed anything along these lines. Instead their hope is that by being more visible on social media, somehow some more of their ideal customers will end up on their website and will end up buying from them. Unfortunately, there are too many leaps of faith involved in that for it to ever be consistently successful... or indeed be something that is scaleable on social media.
Last but not least is the issue of investing inadequate resources to get results. There are several facets to this problem. Firstly, you need to have someone whose time is devoted to social media sufficiently that they can realistically produce results - and also have enough time that they can experiment with what works and what doesn't work for your business. If you have someone just tinkering with social media for an hour a day then it's extremely unlikely that this will ever happen.
But it's not just a matter of adequate time investment in social media. Budget is important too, for two reasons. Firstly, there's a world of difference between a social media manager who has access to all the tools and subscriptions they need to get the job done... versus one who's only able to work with what's freely available. The productivity of someone who has the right tools and subscriptions will be on a totally different level - and therefore skimping on this spend is a massive false economy.
Similarly, putting some budget intelligently into social media advertising and influencer marketing can reap huge rewards. For example, you might start running campaigns whereby everyone who has visited sales pages on your website but not gone on to purchase from you is then shown adverts to entice them back to the site to make a purchase in subsequent weeks. That's a tremendously effective way of using social media to ramp up the conversation rate of all of your website traffic - but clearly requires some up front budget to ever reap the rewards.
So when thinking about investing in social media, don't just think of the cost of the person whose time will be devoted to working on your social media strategy. Instead, think about factoring in the same cost again for that person to have the budget they need to do the job properly. Then you'll start to enjoy the results that social media really should be bringing your small business.
If you'd like to improve your social media marketing skills and transform the results you're getting in your business, we have some limited places remaining on our social media training course. Applications accepted from readers worldwide, 1 hour per week of study time and free to register. Find out more here.
The Social Hire team don't just do social media.
Our team of managers are a team that assists our partners improve their digital presence by producing online marketing services on a regular basis. Our service is transparent and economical, which ensures that you get a great service and results that make a difference when you utilise our services. We arrange many different marketing services for enterprises from small businesses to large corporations to help make the most of of your company's digital and social marketing.
You might like these blog posts Small Business Tips: Focus On Engagement Rather Than Promotion, 5 Reasons to Outsource Social Media Marketing to Someone Else, Marketing Your Side Gig as a Digital Nomad, and Brexit: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Implications For Recruiters.