Social media is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for SMBs to reach out and connect with customers online.
But many businesses owners don’t believe there is a strong enough return on investment (ROI) to invest significant time with social media, says freelance writer Andrew Hutchinson.
“It takes too long”, “our audience isn’t on social” and “I don’t understand how to use it” are three common excuses used to justify not using social media, he says.
“I can understand and sympathise with all of these sentiments,” says Hutchison. “The only counter question I would pose in each case is ‘Are you sure?’”
Before forsaking an online social presence for good, Hutchison says SMB owners need to ask themselves: “What are [we] missing out on by not being present on social media?”
Excuse one: “I don’t understand it”
Social media platforms are designed to be user-friendly – they need to be as simple as possible to use to appeal to the widest possible audience, Hutchinson says.
There are countless free blog posts and advice guides available online that detail how to navigate the various platforms, he says. Spend time using the platforms to familiarise yourself with the basic functions to help decide if the platform is right for your business.
“Understanding them is a great way to get a feel for how they work and what people use them for, which may be of benefit when considering if the platform is a fit for your business,” Hutchison says.
Excuse two: “It takes too long”
Social media requires a significant investment of time to see a considerable return, says Hutchison. But by using the time efficiently and prioritising your efforts, social media becomes a lot easier.
“There are ways to focus and target your efforts through automation tools or by prioritising only the platforms that will work best for your business,” says Hutchinson.
Social media platforms can produce data that can help you track the performance of every update, action or strategic shift by your business – and your competitors, he says.
“Use that to your advantage to see what platforms will work best for your brand. The key is to know who your audience is and where they are active, and to work from there.”
Excuse three: “Our audience isn’t on social media”
“You may be surprised by the number of insights and audience data you can glean from social media activity - information that may be of significant benefit to your marketing plans,” says Hutchinson.
Every day there are more than 10 million Australians on Facebook - almost half the population - spending an average of 1.7 hours each on the platform, Hutchison says.
“When you consider that 18% of the population is aged under 14 (Facebook’s only available to those aged 13 and up) and 27% is aged 55 and over, that leaves a small number of people in the key consumer demographics who are not active on the network,” he says.
You may discover customers are discussing your business and brand online, but if you’re not active, how can you know? You may be missing out on a great chance to actively engage with your target market, Hutchison says.
“Set up some form of social listening for brand mentions and keywords tracking so you’re making an informed choice not to be active.”
There are several excuses, but no good reasons for your SMB to be missing out on social media.