In my last post I talked about why I thought social media was important for SMEs. There are a few key reasons why people haven’t taken the plunge, the main ones being: lack of knowledge, lack of time and lack of a clear strategy. I’ll address each of these in turn and give you some practical advice to get you started.
1 – Lack of knowledge
Start off by talking to people. Chances are you know someone who’s a social media fanatic. Take them out to dinner, get them to tell you their social media story and ask them all the stupid questions you need to.
If you want a very quick introduction to social media marketing read this
2 – Lack of Time
During the first 6 months, for the returns you’re getting it will feel like you’re wasting too much time. Social media marketing is a long term strategy. It’s not like placing an advert in the newspaper where you get leads straight away and the Return On Investment (ROI) is quick and easy to calculate. However, there are some things you can do to save time:
- Delegate and share the work with your whole team
- Outsourcing – agencies, interns or even offshore
- Social media management tools
- Pre-scheduling your content updates
- Listening tools
- Paid ads to speed up the initial growth of your following.
The bottom line is: you don’t have to invest massive amounts of time and you shouldn’t expect results over night. Daily 20 minute time commitments over a year work much better than month long blitzes followed by loss of enthusiasm and giving up.
Andrew made a very good point in the comments section of my last post when he pointed out that there can be valuable effects to your social media efforts other than simply attracting extra customers. He mentions that by listening and interacting with his customers via social media he managed to learn things that he could then use to refine his product and customer service strategies. So one bonus of investing in social media is that you can also use it as a market research tool!
3 – Lack of a clear strategy
You will want to sit down with your team and formalise a clear strategy. Make sure you’ve at least answered these questions:
Where is your audience? Facebook and twitter are the obvious ones. But there’s also…
What UNIQUE value can you add? The internet is a crowded place. If you’re not uniquely informative, funny or useful you won’t be successful. I really want to stress this point – it’s what everybody gets wrong first time.
What case studies can you do of other businesses in your industry who are successfully using social media?
How will you measure ROI? (CAN you measure ROI?)
What are your next actions and your 3,6,9,12 month milestones?