For small and medium sized enterprises, particularly those in retail markets (aka B2C), there is a common misconception that they should be able to acquire hordes of new clients from social media marketing for little or no investment. It is a constant source of frustration for these SMEs that marketing of this nature is not as simple as it appears and very often they quit when the initial costs do not deliver the desired returns on investment, in the form of new sales or new leads.
Done in the right way, social media marketing can deliver attractive returns on investment, so we thought it would be useful to highlight some of the mistakes that SMEs make.
1. Choose the right social media network
Selecting the correct network is a must. Like TV stations, newspapers or any other form of media, different social media sites are used by different demographics. It’s worthwhile looking at the sorts of numbers that utilise social media sites in your niche and your country, and then the demographics.
For example, Pinterest is utilised by around a 70% female audience. Alternatively, Facebook isn’t the top social network in Brazil or China – so if you market in these nations you should be using their more popular network.
2. Don’t try to cover too many networks
It is very easy to fall into the trap of engaging in too many networks, but what typically happens is that you fail to have an impact across all of them.
On a very general basis, we would recommend that all SMEs have a presence on Twitter and then a secondary presence on either Facebook or LinkedIn, depending on the profile of your target client. If you cover these well, you really don’t need any others.
3. Don’t bore people!
What is the worst type of person to sit beside at a dinner party? Yes, the bore who only talks about themselves. People don’t want to hear about the fact your business has just installed a new water cooler – they want information that interests them.
Newspapers and magazines publish articles based around what people want to read, not what’s most important or news. Your social media accounts should keep this in mind. Creating content that resonates with, helps or interests the reader or social media follower is important. Ideally, social media posts should be 80% about interesting things and 20% about your business.
4. Update consistently
Another problem we commonly see with small businesses is joining social media with great gusto and signing up to half a dozen social media sites and then seldom posting on any of them. The key to success here is consistency and the best way to achieve this is to create a simple content plan for how many times a day/week you are going to post content. Typically, plans of this nature become habit-forming, so if you decide, for example, that you are going to post a Tweet at 11am every morning you’d be amazed at how quickly this becomes part of your routine. This also sets the ground rules for your Followers and they can then know what to expect in terms of content from you.
5. Respond to criticism immediately
Many SME’s don’t want to use social media for fear of customer complaints being visible. Generally speaking however a business isn’t judged on the complaint, but more so on how it handles the issue. In fact, there are numerous accounts of businesses that received complaints via social media and dealt with them in a way that turned complaints in to a positive. If other customers see how well you deal with complaints this high level of customer service will appeal to them. Accept customer complaints as a necessary evil of doing business, but deal with the complaints in a prompt and effective manner and watch your band of brand advocates grow!
Like it or not, social Media is not a passing fad. A quarter of the globe is on one site or another, and there’s no better way for companies to engage with consumers. SME’s need to make the most of these readily available tools and by cutting out the mistakes we highlight above can go a long way to improving the effectiveness of their campaigns.