52% of small businesses currently use social media to promote their business but what’s up with the other 48%? Why are they not using this valuable tool to promote their business?
After talking to so many small businesses I would say that fear is the main reason but it is not the only one and that there are a number of other issues. I can understand them, but passionately believe that with some help and effort they can all be overcome. Let’s look at these now.
The biggest barrier to the adoption of social media for small businesses is still fear. What do I do? What medium do I choose? What will I say? And will anyone listen?
These are all questions that go through the head of the business owner. All relevant questions but with answers that can allay any fears. What every business needs is guidance.
Social media is no dark art, it’s just another way of communicating and once people understand that the fear can reduce. The key thing to do is to talk to family, friends and even business associates and get them to explain how they use social media and the fear can subside.
Lack of experience and expertise
The only way to overcome this one is to watch, learn and test. See how others do it, ask your customers how they do it. Seek help from someone who does it well and get them to help you start. Do not be afraid to test things and try the mediums which you are most comfortable with, such as, twitter, snapchat and Linkedin.
I would recommend you get someone you trust to talk you through social media and try it yourself. After a few months experience you will start to wonder what all the worry was about!
Again knowledge is power. Identify the social media your customers use and learn about it. Use whatever method is best for you. Some people like to read, so search out ‘how to’ articles on the mediums you wish to use. Others learn visually and YouTube is crammed with video tutorials on every social medium and you’re sure to find something that can help.
However, in my experience the best way to gain the knowledge you need, is to go to someone already active on social media, buy them a coffee and pick their brains.
Looking for instance results
Many business demand an instant return on investment with social media. However, many are missing the point of its power and use. Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of marketing but the way in which we praise, complain and recommend is changing and our referrals and denunciations of brands and businesses are now moving online. Whilst there are many ways to measure your effectiveness with social media, to demand an instant return can be a dangerous mind-set and result in missed opportunities for referrals and customer retention.
Lack or resources and time
In most small businesses the owners and employees already wear many hats and fear taking on another role. For social media to work in any business it requires ownership. Someone has to be given responsibility and the empowerment to drive the social media exercise forward. There are so many tools now available to allow you to plan your social media activity such as Tweet Deck and Facebook scheduling. I would also urge every small business using social media to adopt a social media calendar where you map out your activity and the customers you are aiming to reach.
However, if you have budget available it might be wise to contract out this responsibility for a period to an agency with experience of social media. This does not have to be a long-term exercise. You can agree for them to mentor those who will have social media responsibility. They can then learn, whilst having the security of an experienced back up until they are comfortable to take on full responsibility.
Not wishing to open up to the world
Social media has opened up the world and any business with something to hide will easily be exposed. Social media should be embraced and not feared but a good strategy to adopt is to never post anything you would not be comfortable saying face to face. I’d also like to share some wisdom from my grandfather who died long before social media took hold. His philosophy on life was ‘it’s nice to be nice’ and for me that’s the ideal social media persona. Never get sucked in to the negativity that can sometimes pervade the online world and always use your posts to spread positivity about your business.
Lack of money
Sign up and use is free for most platforms, so please do not use this as an excuse.
Terrified of feedback
I have met some businesses who won’t touch social media for fear of negative feedback. Well if their proposition or customer service is that bad then people will talk about it regardless.
If we live in the dark we can never improve or evolve. No business should be afraid of feedback on its service and proposition. Social media can be the idea way to conduct client and future customer research. If we ask the right questions, we will get the right answers that help us evolve and grow.
It’s new it won’t work!
Talking to customers is not new and social media is here to stay. I started by saying that 52% of small businesses use social media but that will only increase. Any business that is not involved in social media is missing out on so many opportunities but the most important is this. If we do not participate in our clients digital lives are we really involved in their lives. If we are not, someone else will be and the business opportunity will be lost.
I would urge every business to at least consider social media and not to avoid it for any of the reasons we have discussed, as there is always a solution to every perceived problem.
John Joe McGinley Glassagh Consulting September 2016
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