You know the value is there in social media, but despite your best efforts (or what you think are your best efforts), you’re still struggling to attract anyone. What’s going on and how can you change your social media luck? Below are six reasons SMBs often fail in social media and how you can turn it around.
Stop me when this sounds familiar.
You have no framework: Perhaps the largest reason small business owners fail to see an ROI with social media is because they jumped in without creating a social plan or framework for what they were trying to do. Social media may be ‘newer’ (in theory, anyway), but it’s still a marketing channel. That means before you go into it you want to develop a framework for your objectives, know how you’ll achieve them and determine the key performance indicators you’ll note along the way to make sure you’re on track. Walking into any marketing channel without a clear plan for why you’re there is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you create your strategy BEFORE you try to implement one.
If you need help putting things in place or figuring out how/what/where you should be tracking, the folks at Web Analytics Demystified and Altimeter Group put out a free white paper on social marketing analytics that includes some really powerful information. I recommend you give it a read.
You don’t have great content: This is a biggie. If you’re finding it difficult to engage people through social media, then it may be a sign that you’re not giving them enough to engage with – ie you need better content! Content in social media incorporates everything from your tweets, to status updates, to the posts you publish on your blog. It doesn’t matter how likable, charismatic or helpful you are online, if you’re publishing things of little interest, no one is going to care about the content OR your brand. You may want to use competitive intelligence tools like Quarkbase or Daily RT to see what pieces of content competitors have had success with, Google’s Keyword Research Tool or Google Trends to find out what people are searching for or work on your copywriting skills to help you write more engaging tweets and posts.
You’re targeting the wrong site/audience: Finding customers in social media does not mean creating an account on the largest social media site and setting up shop there. It means finding the site where YOUR people are most apt to talk about you. And that takes understanding where it is your customers hang out on the Web. It doesn’t matter how many millions of users Facebook has if your target demographic spends it’s time on BallHype. Or, even worse, offline. If you’re using Google Analytics, you can check your referrers to see where social media visitors are coming from or you could do something really crazy and ASK your customers which social networks they use and, if they’d be willing, for their usernames so you could “connect” with them.
You put the wrong people in charge: A good degree of your success in social media will have to do with the person(s) running your social media campaign. Brands that tend to do well are the ones that are personable, humble, and that genuinely enjoy talking to people and being social. If that person is not you or someone inside your organization, then you may have a difficult time attracting anyone. Customers can generally tell if an employee likes what they’re doing or finds having to talk to people as enjoyable as making a return the day after Christmas. They want to engage with people who are, themselves, engaging. If that’s not something you can deliver, then consider hiring someone to help you, whether it’s a new employee or a social media marketing company.
You’re not listening: There are two different kinds of companies in social media. Those that listen, and those that sell. Companies who engage in the latter typically have a difficult time gaining traction. While you can definitely use social media to target customers and sell to them, you have to develop a relationship with them first. You need to know who they are, understand their wants, and then give them something that actually has value to them. This is one of the biggest point of differences we see with Facebook Fan Pages that do well, compared to those that do not. Pages that succeed are the ones who are able to leverage personal relationships with customers to offer them something they’re actually interested in. And they can offer that because they’ve listened. They’ve used Twitter Search to hone in on conversations, they’re watching brand mentions on Facebook walls, and they’re making improvements in real-time. That’s the power of social media – the ability it gives you to bob and weave in line with what your customers are asking for.
You’re just ‘dabbling’ with it: If you spent twenty dollars a month on your television ads, you probably wouldn’t be too upset when they don’t convert for you. Of course they’re not bringing in droves of customers; you’re not really using television. You’re just ‘dabbling’. Well, if you spend nothing on social media, then you’re going to see the same return. And that’s where many small businesses are right now – they’re ‘dabbling’ or ‘experimenting’ in social, but they’re not dedicating any resources to it. They’re not hiring people to do it, they’re not investing in real campaigns, and they’re not paying for tools that will help them monitor and benchmark what they’re doing. Just like with anyone else, the investment you put in is going to dictate the value you get out of it. Small business owners who ‘dabble’, should expect to get dabbling results.
Above are six of the biggest reasons I’ve seen for why companies don’t get as much out of social media as they could. What have been your experiences with it?