Social Media - Holy Grail or Necessary Evil?
Updated: Aug 31, 2021
Photo source: Shutterstock, May 2021
I’m sensing social media is viewed a bit like marmite when running a business. You either love it or hate it. While some manage to grow their business predominantly through this one marketing channel others find it overwhelming, constantly evolving and challenging to manage.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying social media is a marketing essential. Impacted by the pandemic, many businesses pivoted to ecommerce with social media becoming the necessary lynch pin to their marketing. It became a key way to communicate with customers and potentially build loyalty (or at least community) until ‘normality’ resumed.
Another telling factor is the rise in job adverts for content managers, social media managers and digital marketing heroes (okay the latter isn’t an actual job title, yet…) Businesses are spending more time and money on social media. We (the customers) are spending more time and money on social media.
Consider recent social media stories from Weetabix and Colin vs. Cuthbert The Caterpillar. The interest, engagement and PR surrounding these campaigns must have impacted the bottom line positively.
Photo source: M&S, May 2021
I’m a traditional marketer so I’m slightly conflicted on my viewpoint. I’ve spent 20+ years looking at marketing from a holistic stand – digital doesn’t even have its own spot in the promotional mix (although it’s widely deemed to be necessary across all 5 elements – Advertising, Public Relations (PR), Sales Promotion, Direct Marketing and Personal Selling). Where does that then leave social media? And how should you tackle social media as a small business?
There’s plenty of evidence to support social media as a marketing essential. For example, recent statistics revealed 1.3 million new users joined social media every day in 2020 and 73% of marketers believe that their efforts through social media marketing have been "somewhat effective" or "very effective" for their business (Source: Hubspot, April 2021) Businesses that have pivoted and/or seen significant growth during the last year or so, can attribute some of that to their marketing efforts on social media. Think about the rise of Joe Wickes or Six by Nico. Yes, there were other factors at play but social media was prevalent.
Small business owners can’t ignore the impact of social media either. The ‘holy grail’ tag is perhaps a bit premature but there are a few things you can do to ensure social media works for you and it’s not a necessary evil!
1. Choose the right social media option for your business and your customers
There are lots of options so avoid rushing in! Don’t be tempted to choose the one that you’re familiar with from personal use or the one that your friend suggests. Make sure it’s where you’ll find your ideal customers and it’s relevant to your business. It’s unlikely an Accountant or HR specialist will find their ideal customers on Instagram. But for a product-led business in the health and beauty sector Instagram works well.
2. Focus on one or two social media options
If you’re a small business it can be difficult to manage several social media accounts at once so it makes sense to be focused. It’s better to be communicating effectively with your ideal customer on one or two platforms rather than communicating badly or very sporadically, as you try to tackle every platform. Think quality not quantity!
3. Automate – make things easier on yourself!
Use platforms or tools to make your life easier with social media. Consider scheduling and automating your social media, which allows you to time block a few hours a week to focus on social media and then ‘delivers’ content at chosen points in the week. Most of these platforms generate data/insights so you can ensure you’re hitting your ideal customer at the right day and time. A few to look into include Hootsuite, Buffer, Sendible, Hubspot and Canva, depending on your needs. Remember to check if there’s a report functionality so you can monitor results and amend your social media when necessary.
4. Plan your content
I’ll admit I’m a bit of a planner and I like to get organised but honestly, planning your content is a no-brainer! A bit of effort and time upfront will save wasted time and resources on a weekly (daily?) basis as you sit and ponder your content. There are tools/apps you can download to help you do this too but you can easily develop a content plan in Excel – it doesn’t have to be complicated or add another monthly business cost.
I’ve got a simple 5 step process for content planning that I’ll be rolling out soon. If you’d like to know more, please just get in touch and I’ll send you the details.