Why Many SMB’s are Still Afraid of Social Media…

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Social media has exploded as the new word of mouth. 66% of adults use social networks. So why are so many small-medium size business owners (SMB’s) still resistant about having social pages for their business? As a digital marketing agency, the company I work for is focused on helping SMB’s compete with their larger competitors online. We are very service oriented and find that we need to spend a lot of time educating our customers on why social media is so important and how it should be used.

Some Common Objections:

“I don’t have time to manage another online marketing channel.”

This is understandable; most SMB’s are too busy actually RUNNING a business to effectively manage their social media channels. With new social networks popping up every day, existing social networks making changes, it can be a full-time job just to keep up with social media. However, there are plenty of independent consultants and social media agencies popping up that can help you navigate the social waters. Naturally this requires some investment.

“I don’t have any budget to dedicate towards social media.”

Many people perceive social media as something that is free. In actuality, successfully managing social media requires a dedicated budget. You dedicate a budget to advertising, perhaps you even employ and ad agency. So why not dedicate some of that budget to social media?

“I tried it once before and did not see any ROI.”

According to a recent BIA/Kelsey survey of SMB’s on digital marketing, though the majority of business owners acknowledge the importance of social media, they also assess the return on investment as “poor”. Many of my clients seem confused about what to expect from social media. They think that hiring a social media team means they are going to get hundreds of new leads like a daily deal, or that they should only be posting coupons and advertisements. Social media is NOT a sales tool, it is a SOCIAL tool. It is about creating awareness, providing customer service, and building a loyal community that will eventually lead to repeat business and new customers. Be patient! I usually tell clients that they need to do social media consistently for at least six months to a year to realize the benefits.

“Our customers are not on social media.”

Some businesses such as elder care services, small financial and insurance firms, doctors’ offices, etc. will tell me that they have an older clientele; their customers are not on social media. This is crazy talk! Just because you cater to an older demographic does not mean that you don’t need social media. According to Pew Research, “34% of adults over the age of 65 access sites such as Facebook and Twitter.” Additionally, their children and grandchildren (often times the care takers or decision makers) ARE on social media.

“There are regulations in our industry and we are nervous about posting on social media.”

There are no formal laws about what a business can say on social media, some industries such as Finance have guidelines created by FINRA which they can follow. Use common sense and you won’t get in trouble with social media. Your CEO wouldn’t have a public conversation on Twitter about private company information would he? Keep your content light, be helpful to your audience, there are no rules against sharing an article on personal finance or insurance tips. Talk about stuff your audience cares about such as local sports teams, charitable organizations, highlight a customer or member of the community. There is plenty of content that you can share that will not break any rules.

“We don’t want anyone to say something bad about us online.”

Let’s face it; regardless of whether or not you are online, there are plenty of avenues for someone to say something negative about your business. There are review sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Angie’s List, blogs, and social networks where people can talk about your business.  Being present online gives people the option to connect with you directly and perhaps resolve any complaints. Don’t just set up a website or social networks and forget about them. Going to a Facebook or Twitter page with no activity is like walking into a store with nothing on the shelves. It doesn’t look very good for your business.

Once SMB’s are able to overcome these objections to social media they will realize all of the positive benefits for their business. There are many options available to help business owners in the social space. Tools like SOCIALSUITE make it easy to plan content, schedule postings, and manage your community. In addition, there are many online marketing agencies, consultancies; advertising agencies and PR firms that can help manage your social media. One word of advice with hiring an outside firm would be to really make sure that they understand your brand and goals. A good social media agency should function like an extension of your internal marketing department. They work for you.

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Comments

  1. Michelle,

    Thanks for sharing another interesting blog! It seems crazy to me that SMBs are still against utilizing social media sites to increase awareness of their businesses. Do you feel that all businesses looking to gain exposure and increase sales should offer a full-time marketing position who is responsible for social networking? I feel it is as important, if not more, for smaller businesses to do this rather than larger well-known organizations because they need to get their message and goals out there to the public! We already know all about organizations like Gatorade, so I personally don’t think it’s necessary for them to do as much marketing as they currently do, unless there’s new products on the market. Smaller businesses, on the other hand, need to increase awareness and inform their target market on the new products or services. Social media could be extremely beneficial for this.

    Alyson

  2. Well written! I see my company asking the same questions. Great to have some answers available that makes it easier for my company to understand the need of utilizing social media.

  3. Nice post! It’s always good to know that the objections of one company are common among others. Your analogy of empty shelves in a store to SM pages with no activity should be a wake-up call to those who think that displaying widgets alone make them relevant and social.

  4. You bring up a really important point about your customers who are saying that their customers are not on social media. In industries such as elder care services, a number of their direct clients may not have a social media account and may not even have a computer, but their children and grandchildren do, as well as their non-related caretakers. These people may be making important, and, in some cases, life-changing, decisions for the companies direct customers. They should not be ignoring these valuable channels that their clients contacts are highly engaged in.

  5. Such a relavant post addressing so many of the concerns SMBs have. Well done.

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