Small businesses are just like all other businesses in that they are there to provide a product or service and make money. And with every business come struggles and difficulties, long hours, weekends, scheduling, hiring/firing. Where small and mid-large businesses differ are in the people that are working the hours and carrying out these decisions. For mid-large businesses it is a group of people that come together to share in the burdens where as in small businesses it usually falls on the owner. So it is important to make sure your time is used to its full potential. Schaupp and Belanger wrote a great article on the importance of social media and the time investment for small businesses. But as they discuss in the article small business owners wear many hats and social media is very time consuming because you need to keep your content relevant. So you need to ask yourself, is this “Social Media” thing really for my business? Well according to a study by the social media examiner, 97% of marketers stated they used social media to market their business. So how do you know if it’s right for your business?
Figure 1 – Retrieved From Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2014
1. Social Media Can & Does Work For Small Businesses (Yes Yours Too!): New forms of media can be scary and easy to pass off as the obligatory “this is nice but wouldn’t work for my business” mentality. But social media is here and doesn’t appear to be just a fad that will wear away in a few months. This isn’t just for large businesses with a big footprint, or startups with large aspirations. A study done by the social media examiner in 2014 showed that 92% of marketers agreed that social media was important to their business (34% of the respondents to the study were small businesses, with 2-10 employees). But just having a presence isn’t going to help you. You must be willing to invest the time to use social media to better your business with a specific plan, goals, and measurable to make sure you stay on track and focused on the end strategy.
2. Return on Investment (ROI): ROI, the most powerful three words in business, what am I going to get back for the effort I put in. So why is it that the social media examiner study also showed that only 37% of the respondents could successfully measure their social media ROI?
Figure 2 – Retrieved From Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2014
Well let’s first examine what ROI is, Return on Investment. How many people read this as strictly a monetary gain? ROI doesn’t have to be specifically money, it can mean many things to many different people depending on what they want to get back for the effort they put in. There in lies the difficult task in measuring ROI, before it can be measured it must first be defined. What do you want as a return, X amount of net new customers, X% of sales increase from social media platforms, X% of increase to educational class attendance? These need to be tailored to your specific industry and business, this is what will help make social media relevant to your small business and separate you from the competition.
Location, Location, LocationMore Like Metrics, Metrics, Metrics! : Now that an ROI has been established it is just as important to make sure there is a path laid out directing you there. Putting in a lot of time and effort for months to only find out it was a waste of time would be devastating to any business, especially the small business owner whose time is so valuable. Metrics are great ways to give clarity into what is working and what isn’t. If our ROI is X% of increase to educational classes attendance by the end of the year, we would need to setup appropriate metrics to measure its success. Attendees would need to fill out a registration and indicate where they learned about the educational class, this would allow the business to track their demographics allowing us to know if they were refereed specifically because of our social media campaign. Then markers would need to be established to measure if the campaign was on track or not, so for example 25% of our goal should be reached by the first quarter and 50% of our goal should be reached by the mid-year point. If these milestones have not been reached the established campaign is not working and may need adjustments to be successful.
Small businesses are not exempt from social media and the benefits it has to offer. It can be used in all forms of business successfully if there is a clear ROI in place and are specific goals and metrics are established. This will help to allow small business owners to tailor social media to their business and gain the most from the time and effort that they are putting into it. Remember that social media success for small business is possible with a little work and focus.
Category: ROI, Small Biz, Social Media Marketing Integration