A lot of small business owners I talk to are increasingly frustrated by the lack of social media marketing results they are seeing when they get up and running with this themselves. They've been investing time - and often money - in social media, but are growing disillusioned that they can't identify any business wins to justify continuing with this.
It struck me that there are probably a lot more business owners out there who are similarly fed up! So I thought I'd note some of the key reasons we uncover when we're diagnosing what small business owners have been doing wrong.
Which of these might explain why you're not seeing the social media results you'd want?
1. You haven't decided on the tangible outcome(s) social media should deliver
2. You haven't mapped out how that outcome will be achieved through social media
3. You haven't sanity checked that that outcome is even achievable
4. You haven't assigned the resources necessary to achieve that outcome
5. You don't have the skills or experience required to deliver on your desired outcome
Let's take each of these in turn to help you isolate where your problems really lie.
Did you ever hear the saying "if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there"?! That's how lots of small business's social media activities can be characterised. There's a fair bit of activity taking place, with the hope that "something good will surely come of this". But the reality is that you're sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring... hoping that the activity will bring you web traffic and enquiries... thinking that if you promote your offer enough times, someone will surely buy.
In practice, social media can be a massive time drain - and far too many of the things you can do here can be "brand building", but it's ultimately a thumb-suck as to whether they are actually making a difference to your business. That's fine if you're a global consulting business with a multi-million $£ digital marketing budget, but for most SMEs we need to know far faster - and with far more certainty - that our marketing spend is bringing a real return, right?!
That's why our approach is that we always like to focus on a specific outcome that a business wants to achieve. Maybe that's generating attendees for a business breakfast... or prospects requesting a demo... or our ideal customers booking in for a free consultation call.
Having a desired outcome (or two) from your social media activities is super valuable for two distinct reasons. Firstly, it means that after 3 months or 6 months of activity we can measure a real revenue-generating or cost-saving impact that social media is having on the business. Secondly, it means that everyone in the business can be advised of this objective and then can pick and choose what to spend time on on social media as a function of whether or not it's going to contribute to this specific objective.
Once you've got an objective or two in mind, you still need to plan out your path to success a little before you can dive into your actual day-to-day social media activities.
More specifically, you need to map out a plan for i) how you are going to grow your audience and ii) how you are going to convert that audience into the end results you crave for the business.
Hint: if you are going to rely on just posting some good content to grow your audience, it's going to grow painfully slowly. Moreover, if you are going to wait for that following of people to visit your website and then take the action you desire (eg. booking in for a call) then you are going to be waiting an eternity before you have any wins you can celebrate!
Put simply, there are proven approaches you can use to grow your audience. Once grown, that audience is most likely to respond to either i) personal messages that start a conversation or ii) targeted adverts that push them to take the desired next step. So you have to be factoring in the right activities from the outset to ensure you'll ultimately get tangible results.
Before you invest too much time (or budget) in social media, you should ideally establish that your desired outcome is actually achievable through social media.
For example, if you sell something expensive then it may be totally unrealistic to expect a social media follower to ever visit your website and buy online without speaking to you. Whereas it might be highly probable that a regular flow of sales call bookings could be triggered from your social media presence.
By now, there are enough specialist social media agencies and specialist consultants that you should be able to easily uncover whether the objectives you have for your social media can be credibly achieved or are simply a pipe dream! Pick the brains of people who've got results achieving the kinds of outcomes you want to achieve - and then you can embark on this work with a far higher degree of certainty that things are going to work out. Of course you're welcome to book in for a call with us if you would like to sanity-check the objectives you're hoping social media will achieve for your business.
Small businesses often underestimate what's needed to get to the point where you're seeing predictable and scaleable results from social media. Firstly there's a certain resource (ie. dedicated team member) and perhaps budget that will be needed to make your social media strategy fly.
Just as important, there's also a time window that's necessary to start achieving consistent results. In our business, for example, we talk about generating tangible results within 90 days of starting our work with a client. But that's a tough ask - if your team is either less well resourced than ours, or less skilled than ours, then the timeline for getting results is realistically going to be half a year to a year. As a consequence, some social media initiatives that stood a good chance of working actually get closed down simply because they hadn't yet had enough time to actually flourish.
I alluded above that having the wrong people working on your social media plans can significantly extend the time window you'll need to generate results. Instead of implementing approaches that work from day one, someone less experienced will be experimenting with approaches and learning by trial and error what actually works.
That's the best-case scenario though! If someone doesn't have a track record of having achieved the kinds of results you are looking for, they may never get to the point of making it work for your business. They may lack the skills to test the various elements of your strategy that need to be refined. Or they may lack the awareness of what they need to focus on to achieve success.
Realistically, the choices for a business owner to consider are i) employing an experienced social media manager to join the business or ii) engaging an experienced social media agency to take on this work instead. The third option of asking an intern or an office admin to take on this challenge is doomed to failure and shouldn't really be considered an option at all. Without the skills and experience needed to get results, you are simply setting them up to fail from day one. So decide whether to employ someone or hire an agency and save yourself the pain of enduring mediocre results!
I hope that this post has helped you uncover some of the reasons you've not been getting the end results you would like from your social media investment to date. If you'd like to chat through how we'd envisage social media working for your particular business, feel free to book in for a call with one of our team and we'd be delighted to help.
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