We’ve all read our share of ‘why social media is important’ articles. We know the pitch, the numbers, the trends. We all know that it’s not a fad and it’s something there we should, at the least, be looking into, right? Given that, I thought what might be worthwhile is to take a look from the other side, to analyse the reasons against social business. Why are you not active on social? Why do you think it’s not worth your time? Why are those bandwagon jumping advocates all wrong?
Here are some of the main advantages of social media marketing for Australian small businesses.
1. I don’t know how to do it, I’m not computer savvy enough to understand the details
Okay, yes, social media is technology based, and, yes, it does take a moment to learn and understand. But social platforms benefit from having more users, and thus, their interfaces are built to be user-friendly. Their functionality is clearly indicated, the processes are simple – anyone, given a bit of time, can understand how to use social media. And really, it’s not the technical aspects that are critical to social success. Social media marketing case studies by thought leader Brian Solis include quotes about this:
"Social media is about social science, not technology”
This is probably the biggest misconception about social media. It’s not a technological phenomenon, it’s a sociological one. It’s providing people with new ways to connect, new ways to stay in touch, and new ways to find and discover new things. It’s changing how we interact, and technology is a part of it, but it’s the vehicle, not the concept.
Another social thought leader, Jay Baer, said this:
"The goal is not to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media."
This is a critical distinction – the technical processes and details are not an end unto themselves, they are a part of a larger system to become a better business. Social media for business is one of those things that you don’t need to know every detail of SEO and dark posts to succeed in social. What you do need to know is your audience. Who are they? What they’re interested in? What messages resonate with them? You can learn this from their social activity, you can enhance your knowledge of your audience via social platforms. Do that, and you’ll see what connects with them, how to reach them. Technical limitations can be overcome, there are answers to every question within the click of a mouse and experts are always available to assist if needed. The true power of social is in what you’ve been doing all your life. Listening, communicating, building relationships. These are the crucial skills for social media success.
2. I prefer face-to-face interaction over text messages
Totally understand that, it’s much better to see someone eye-to-eye when conducting a business transaction, much easier to get a feel for who they are and what they’re about. But do your clients feel the same way? All of them? Social media as a marketing tool is a tactic that simply cannot be ignored. Did you know that in 2004 about 1 trillion SMS messages were sent, globally? You know how many were sent in 2009, just five years later? Four and-a-half trillion. SMS was the inspiration behind Twitter - seeing the exponential growth in short messaging and people moving away from face-to-to-face, or even voice-to-voice, communications, the development team built a social network based around the same model. And with 271 million users and 500 million tweets sent per day, I think they were probably onto something. You know how many active Facebook users there are, each month? 1.3 billion. The growth rates for non face-to-face interaction are undeniable, people are connecting in new ways, and, with SMS now more than 20 years old, many have been interacting this way all their lives. So I hear you, face-to-face meetings are great. But do all your potential customers agree? Because it really doesn’t matter what your preference is if your potential clients don’t feel the same.
3. I don’t like to tell people about myself
You don’t have to tell people about yourself to use social media for business purposes. But then again, maybe you should. You’re passionate about your work, you know your job inside out, you know the answers to the most common customer queries off the top of your head. Why not share that? You don’t have to post pictures of your dinner or share details of your relationships, it’s totally up to you on that front, but the benefits of sharing your knowledge can be significant. There’s never been such a readily available platform for you to share your thoughts to a wide audience, never been a better way to communicate your expertise and connect with like-minded folk. As a businessperson, this is an amazing opportunity to showcase your knowledge and become a thought leader and go-to resource in your field. Social media marketing case studies by Marcus Sheridan discuss how he took his pool company from a failing enterprise to one of the largest of its kind in the world. He shared his knowledge, his story, his industry expertise online. You don’t have to open yourself up to the world, but the knowledge you have in your head might be handy to people seeking such info. Why not share it?
4. Internet security scares me – companies sell your information for marketing purposes
There’s a lot of discussion about privacy concerns in social media, particularly around Facebook (Facebook Messenger has come under a lot of scrutiny of late). And yes, the truth is that Facebook does use your information to help companies target their advertisements. But is that such a frightening prospect? The reality is, you’re going to see ads when you’re online – doesn’t it make more sense to see ads that you might be interested in, based on your needs and wants, as opposed to generically targeted content?
And here’s the thing about social media for business – you control how much information you post online. If you don’t want Facebook to know about your medical history, don’t post it in your profile. You don’t want to share info about your family? Don’t write it. There’s no way any network can make you volunteer information you don’t want to share – it’s not as if signing up to Google+ will suddenly give them license to make your Google search history public (you know how in movies and TV shows they always have characters’ worst nightmare scenario being going to class/work with no clothes on? I think having your Google search history posted publicly is a modern equivalent of that worst case).
You control what you share online, especially in the case of a business profile. A good way to approach how you post would be to imagine your profile is an actual store – would you feel comfortable saying the things you’re posting to a customer in person, in-store? Or as someone once put it to me, would you be comfortable having this post published in tomorrow’s newspaper with your name attached to it? It’s worth being cautious about what you share, what information you make available online, but you can control it. Networks can only know what you tell them.
5. It’s too time-consuming, takes too long to learn and implement effectively
This is a valid concern, it does take time to learn and actively engage in social. But it comes back to an earlier answer – does your audience feel the same way? While it may mean investing more time and resources, is it likely that your target audience will respond and that you’ll ultimately benefit from that effort? Increasingly, the answer to this question is yes, but as it stands, right now, it’s hard to know, for sure, how effective social media for small business will be for each specific business. Do you know? Are you confident that you’re not missing out on opportunities by not being active on social? If you are, then yep, I agree, it’s too time consuming, no point being there if your audience isn’t. But if you’re not sure, isn’t it worth setting up some level of monitoring to clarify those answer?
Is it worth the time? Depends on your audience. Is it worth the time to know your audience and know the discussion relevant to your brand and industry on social platforms? I’d say yes, then you can make an informed decision on the potential business benefits and needs.
6. We’re just not interested, it doesn’t appeal to our business
And this is one of the most common, yet hardest to argue, points of view on social media. ‘Not interested’ is an opinion, not a conclusion. If you’re not interested, then definitely, it’s not for you. It takes a level of interest, a want to learn in order to maximise opportunities in social – if you don’t have that interest, if you’re closed to the potential of the medium, then you’re probably not going to realise any possible benefits. As long as you’re sure your target customers share that same point of view.
Social media for small business provides a raft of new information sources for users, new ways that business owners and customers can interact and connect. For many, it’s now a significant part of their lives, and is becoming more so for an increasing number of people every day. Amongst those billions of tweets and updates and images posted every day, there’s going to be discussions of some relevance to your brand. Maybe a little now, a little more next week, a lot in a year’s time. While you may not be interested, others looking to do business with you might be, and it’s possible that you could be missing out. But if you’re not interested, you’re not interested, no problems. As long as you’re sure.
Are you sure?