Recently, Mashable published an article titled "The Five Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners." One of the worst pieces of advice was "Social media is free." It happens so often: a small business creates a Facebook page, Twitter account, and a blog, and then expects to have dozens of likes, followers, and readers without doing anything. YES, it IS free to create all of these things, but there is a lot that goes into having a successful social media presence. Here are 3 reasons why social media won't be free for you as a small business and how you can overcome these things:
1. Social media is time consuming.
I'm not talking about when you scroll through your News Feed looking at pictures of cats, dogs, babies, and recent wedding engagements and the next thing you know 5 hours have passed. What I mean is, it takes time to find the content to post on your Facebook page, to search through tweets to see if your industry is being mentioned in your area, to write blog posts. You may think you have it down after a few weeks but it can get extremely exhausting to stay creative all the time. On top of finding things to talk about, you must remember to be responsive as well. People WILL eventually write on your wall and tweet to you you must be there to respond when they do.
Solution: Designate time each day (whether it's 90 minutes or 9 minutes) to work on your social presence. Keep in mind that the more you put into social media, the more you'll get out of it - 9 minutes is fine if that's what you can afford, but don't expect the same results as the small business owner down the street that's spending 90 minutes a day on it. Use things like content calendars to keep track of what you should be posting and scheduling tools so that you don't have to worry about posting at the same time every day.
2. Social media needs resources.
Like most small businesses out there, your staff is probably exactly what the name suggests: small. And it's not always the most cost effective thing to hire someone solely dedicated to running social media for your business. But at the same time, you must remember that you can't just put up your social channels and expect them to work wonders on their own. There needs to be a person who puts the time in (as mentioned above.)
Solution: Identify staff members who are avid social media users themselves and would be excited to run the social channels for your business. If you have multiple, split the time between them so no one burns out.
3. At some point or another, social media will cost you dollars and cents.
There are plenty of brands out there that can put up their Facebook page and get hundreds and thousands of fans with the snap of a finger. For the small businesses of the world, this is typically not the case. Your current customers will get your numbers up, but that can only go so far. On Facebook in particular, the opportunities for small businesses to advertise in order to get their name out there to NEW customers are endless - but this does cost money. You don't have to spend thousands or even hundreds of dollars on Facebook Advertising, but to give your business a boost and to acquire new customers to see ROI through social, some money towards ads will be necessary.
Solution: Set aside a small budget at first (this could be a mere $25.00) and see what it does for your small business. If you get new customers in the door from an ad they saw for you on Facebook, you'll know that something is working and then you can spend more money as needed from there.
At the end of the day it is important to remember that social media takes dedication and patience. Even with the pointers above, social media can get frustrating, but if you stick with it, amazing things can happen for your small business. Just keep in mind that it won't be free.
By: Megan McMahon