Sorry to break it to you.
But most of you reading this, won’t reap the benefits of social media for small businesses.
Does that mean that I don’t believe in you and your small business?
No. Not in the slightest.
It means I understand the many and sometimes complex challenges to implementing, managing, and succeeding with social media for small businesses.
And in working with dozens of companies’ social media marketing, I see how many small businesses struggle with and often fail at utilizing social media for their business.
So, I’ve learned first-hand how challenging it can be to implement social media in a way that has a positive impact on your business.
This post is going to share the top challenges that small businesses have with social media and some advice to overcome these challenges.
I hope that after reading this post you go from a position of never being able to leverage social media for your small business, to crushing it everyday on social media for your small business.
So, let’s dive right into these social media challenges for SMB and go over some pro tips to overcoming each one.
#1: Ain’t nobody got time fo dat! (managing social media)
The first reason you won’t reap the benefits of social media for your small business is that you don’t have the time to invest.
Seriously, though, your customers are on social media 24/7, meanwhile most small businesses struggle to even set up their business pages. Let alone post useful content to them consistently and engage with their customers through them.
Maintaining a useful social media presence isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to eat up every free hour of your day. Smart management techniques can get you maximum impact with minimal time investment.
This means investing time up front to set up smart management techniques that will ultimately save you time managing your social media efforts.
In other words, don’t read the headline of this post and a couple paragraphs and then leave to start creating your business pages on social platforms.
Take your time getting started. Read all of this post, and potentially others if you need more information. Research the different social platforms, your customer base demographics, and the available social media management tools available – before you just dive into trying to market your business on social media.
Trust me, doing it wrong is not good.
Once you have the basics out of the way, you can concentrate on using social media to its best effect – listening to and interacting with your customers and applying the lessons you learn to the way you run your business.
So, in order to create time “fo dat” (for that), you will need to create a social media marketing plan to set aside dedicated time to manage your social media presence efficiently.
Which brings us to our next reason that you won’t reap the benefits of social media for your business.
#2: You Didn’t Create a Social Media Marketing Plan
If you want to reap the benefits of social media for your small business, then you have to start with a plan.
Social media activity is 24/7. It requires strategy and consistency that produces a nice ebb and flow of content and engagement.
In order to meet this requirement, you are going to need to create a plan for your social media marketing.
Without a plan, social media will be very difficult to manage, after all, you have your own clients and workload to focus on. It is essential to have systems in place to organize your social activity and help you manage it.
This means not posting on the fly so much as planning your content and scheduling it using your preferred technology. Here are a few I recommend:
- Buffer – Easy to use. Free to get started (limited usage).
- Hootsuite – Tons of features. Tons of tutorials online and on their site to help you.
- Sprout Social – Their social customer service feature is pretty nifty.
Once you choose the tool you prefer, you can start setting aside dedicated time to manage all of your social media in one place.
Now you are organized, consistent, and you can take any of those golf days you want because these apps won’t miss a beat.
A couple tips for planning and scheduling social media content:
- Don’t over post or under post, find a good consistent pace to put your content in front of your audience
- Try using the tools “auto” and “optimal” scheduling features to post at the best times of the day
- See how often your competition is posting to determine your frequency.
- Pay attention to engagement when you post more frequently or less frequently to learn your audience’s preference.
#3: You Haven’t Set Clear Goals For Your Social Media Activity
It’s impossible to judge whether or not your social media marketing is a success unless you start with well-defined goals.
The benefits of social media for small business are parallel to your goals in a social media marketing plan, here are the main benefits:
- more exposure
- more marketing reach
- more customer engagement
- more leads
- more sales
Without something to aim for, any marketing efforts you make will be scattershot and far less effective than they could be. Take the time to figure out three target platforms that you want to focus your social media activity on.
Be realistic and make sure you pick goals that are firmly quantifiable, like:
- Choosing 3 ideal platforms for your business (more exposure)
- Getting your first 100 followers (more marketing reach)
- Getting your first comment or like (more customer engagement)
- Getting your first sales lead (more leads)
- Closing 1 deal from a social media lead (more sales)
Here is a good article that goes into detail on how to set goals for social media.
It is also important to mention in this section that social media plays a huge benefit to your website’s SEO. Here are a couple of the main ways that I’m referring too:
- When you’re website pages are ‘Liked’ ‘Tweeted’ or shared on any social network, Google receives a positive ranking signal that could boost that webpages ranking in search engines.
- Additionally, any links across social media that point to your social media profiles and your website, are also passing Pagerank to your website and increasing all of it’s pages ranking in search engines.
Your SEO efforts are greatly enhanced by your social media efforts, most companies won’t be able to compete with their SEO efforts unless they include a strong social presence.
#4: You Need to Examine Your Current Social Media Assets
One major benefit to social media for your small business is to respond to and control negative content and to promote positive content.
Things like positive and negative reviews of your company as well as any social media pages that exist for your company, need to be monitored and audited from time to time in order to do this.
Although you can’t pay companies like Yelp to alter or remove negative reviews, you need to respond promptly to these negative review.
If you don’t do your damage control, you will be like this company with 3 scathing reviews in a row. And nothing but *crickets* from the business.
This is a surefire way to deter potential leads from social media and review sites. Make sure to respond to any negative reviews and offer resolution where possible.
Even if this is your very first attempt to employ social media on behalf of your business, don’t assume that you’re starting with a blank slate. Run a thorough search to find out what’s already being said about your company on the web, review sites, and social networks.
Build up a comprehensive audit that includes both your official sites and accounts and any others – social pages, business profile pages, or reviews of your business etc. – that you may find. Begin trimming the tree by shutting down sites that are harmful and removing content that’s extraneous to your goals.
If you don’t have control over the content, there are other strategies. For example, you can try to make sure they are buried in search results so that people won’t find those pages. These strategies are advanced and will require a consultant, like us.
The practice of managing your brand’s reputation online is called Online Reputation Management (ORM). It is very important for your business.
Many business owners aren’t even aware of negative reviews, mentions of their business, and other types of content that exist online and are negatively impacting their business.
Don’t be one of those businesses. Audit your business online, here are a few search engine tricks to help you do the audit.
You are going to use search operators to find “footprints” of your business online. Just copy paste these into Google and replace Business Name with your business name.
- Business Name + reviews
- Business Name + complaint
- Business Name + ripoff
In addition to searching on Google, Here are some more sites to include in your audit:
- Facebook Ratings & Reviews
- Google My Business
- Angie’s List
- Yahoo! Local Listings
- Better Business Bureau
And never forget to review your own website for comments that may have slipped by!
#5: You Don’t Have a Content Marketing Strategy
In order to grow your social media presence and turn it into an asset, you’ll need content to feed to your current followers and to attract new ones.
This means you need good stuff to share on your social pages, stuff your audience will enjoy and hopefully engage with. Any engagement with your content will algorithmically generate more visibility to the content, expanding your marketing reach.
Analyze your customers to find out what sort of content will be most useful to them and study the most effective ways to deliver it.
Here is how to do this:
- Find your top 5 competitors on the 3 social channels you selected when setting your goals.
- Analyze their posts for the past few months and also check out some of the holidays and different seasonal business times of the year. (Looking for promotions etc..)
- Make a list of the most liked, commented on, and shared posts from your audit.
- List any important notes about the content, why you think it got engagement
Now, you take what you learned and go try to create similar and better content to share on social media. Here are a couple of great articles that will teach you how to find (curate) and create great content for social media:
Armed with the competitor research that you did and these tools, you will be posting some great content.
Plan out the creative and management process, too; identify who (if not you) will be responsible for creating, posting, and promoting your content.
All of your staff should be encouraged to help out promoting content, this simply means liking and engaging with your social media posts.
Obviously, in good taste, they don’t need to all comment on every post.
#6: You Aren’t Engaging With Customers on Social Media
Surely you’ve noticed major brands, and even small companies, that have implemented unique social media strategies and successfully engaged with a huge audience.
People love being able to interact with their favorite brands in real time.
However, there are a large number of businesses that are not taking this opportunity or are completely missing their mark when it comes to outreach on social media.
The following tips are going to allow you to navigate the social media waters with ease and comfort.
Be Proactive In Your Social Media Engagement
Listen and Respond – In order to bring your social media activity to a new level, it is important to listen and respond to your followers and fans. Never let your social media accounts be a passive experience. Take the time to reach out to your audience, it will take them by surprise. If you see that you have been mentioned by someone, take the time to thank them and address their comment or question. In addition, be personable and offer them any tips you may have on the subject at hand.
Monitoring Social Media As A Strategy
Listen and Monitor – Sometimes you have to get all covert if you want to succeed on social media and that requires listening to what people are saying about you or your business. Social media listening is one of the largest missed opportunities of businesses large and small. This is how you can find out what you are doing right as well as wrong. Take time to monitor without responding, just take notes and see what people are saying about you and your competitors. Take this opportunity to get ahead of your competition. This type of listening allows you to build a strong relationship with your customers using what you learned and to best understand how your social media interaction is working.
Hold On To Your Followers And Fans
Don’t Forget Your Fans – If you are posting new and unique content it is always possible to attract new followers. The key to success is retaining your current followers. By ignoring your current following you are missing out on a golden opportunity. The more you put into your social media interaction, the more you are going to get out of it. Don’t forget about your followers who have been with you since the beginning. Take the time and let them know that you appreciate them and value them for sticking with you.
#7: You Don’t Gather Data Constantly, Or Haven’t Checked It
Since you have distinct social media goals and a firm strategy for meeting them, it shouldn’t be too hard to track your progress as you go forward.
You can track the spread of your content, your acquisition of followers, and the activity (sharing and responding) that your content generates. You have plenty of different analytical tools to help you monitor all of this activity.
Some of them, like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, are free; others may cost money, like Hootsuite Pro.
Buffer provides some data as well and is free to get started.
They also offer a free tool called Pablo that helps you create perfectly optimized social media images on the fly and you get access to their database of pretty decent images. You can also upload your own. It is pretty awesome for a free tool.
#8: You Aren’t Being Innovative & Adjusting Your Efforts
Paying attention to the analytical data coming in from your social media marketing serves a higher purpose than just ticking off your progress towards your goals.
You should also be assessing the effectiveness of your actions. Which means you’re tracking data and paying attention to it.
Adjust your strategy for creating and distributing content based on which pieces perform best. Pay attention to posts that get more likes, shares, and comments so you know what type of information and style of content your audience wants more of.
Don’t be afraid to zero in on particular segments of your audience or try to secure new niches. You should always view your overall social media strategy as a work in progress.
Now It’s Your Turn
Well, there you have it. All the reasons you won’t reap the benefits of social media for small businesses.
Along with all the ways to overcome these challenges to maximize your social media marketing results.
With this information, you’ve got 0 excuses for not marketing your business properly on social media. All it is going to take now is a little drive and patience.
Now go out there and do your research, make a solid plan, and then you can start growing your marketing reach, engaging your customer base, and generating more leads and sales for your business!
Have you gotten your first lead or sale from social media yet? Leave a comment right now and tell me about it! 🙂