It’s safe to say that small business social media marketing can have a dramatic effect in increasing the sales of any company, given time and patience.
Done properly, social media marketing will build the awareness of a brand and engage a community: over time this will translate into increased sales and a greater number of conversions. However, as we saw in part one of this article, social media marketing is not in itself a magic bullet. It can’t work miracles over night, and will, if carried out badly actually cause a small business more harm than good.
Businesses which enter this arena with either unrealistic expectations, or a lack of clear and defined strategy, will soon discover that platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest will only return the same investment that’s put in.
Success is entirely dependent on effort and commitment.
In the final part of this article we’ll look at the two final mistakes that small businesses tend to make when they take a cavalier approach social media marketing: too much concentration on the hard sell, and rolling over too easily.
Engage with the community, but go easy on the hard sell.
The problem with any ‘new’ platform, especially one that appears to be ‘free’ at face value, is that there is too great a temptation to hit the ground running and to bombard potential members of an online community with sales offer after sales offer. Now, it may well be that what you’re offering is fantastic value for money and far superior to any of your competitors, but you can’t expect users to buy into this – well, certainly not immediately. The purpose of social media marketing is to build a name online for a business: that means the business will have to earn and build trust and recognition. A company needs to demonstrate what makes it different, and prove that it adds value for the members of its niche community. Unfortunately, this takes time. Yet, once a business has built a reputation for excellence and the quality of service, then members of the community will start marketing on the business’ behalf and tell their friends and followers what makes it different, and why they should choose to do their business with this company rather than someone else. That’s when it businesses can start showcasing their latest products and offers and sharing links to sales pages.
Good things come to those who wait.
Whether you’re a fan of the ‘black stuff’ or not, Guinness hit the nail on the head with that strap line. Anything worthwhile is worth waiting for. It’s always easy to talk in clichés and trot out familiar phrases like if you don’t succeed –try, try and try again: but unfortunately they are true in this case. Social media marketing isn’t a magic bullet as was mentioned earlier – it’s a strategy, and a means to an end. So it’s important that small businesses don’t give up the fight and roll over too easily if they don’t see immediate results. Building relationships takes time and you have to accept that you’re in it for the long haul. But eventually you will start to reap the rewards if you put the time and the effort in and provide value, target your audience effectively, and share consistently great content.
Now, of course, there’s nothing to say that this will mean a greater number of sales or conversions, but that’s not the only yardstick by which to judge social media platforms. You may pick up some valuable business contacts, and that may be the catalyst that drives your business up a level. Then you’ll start to appreciate why the time and commitment you put in was worth it.