Small businesses losing faith in social media

social-sharingOver the last 6 months or so I’ve been presenting a similar based theme at a number of small business group meetings here and there, around ‘social media for small businesses’ and I am amazed at the recurring issues and responses I get from some of its attendees, that they’re losing faith with social media and its lack of ROI. When diving in to take a look at their social accounts, its simply because many of them use their company social channels the same way they run their personal accounts.

Think about your personal Facebook timeline for a moment, most of it is filled with snippets from family and friends which can be pretty menial, from “here is what I had for dinner” through to a celebration of a Birthday, Wedding, Birth and so on and we are all guilty of posts like these aren’t we? (well I am). Now imagine your favourite brands filling your timeline with these kinds of posts, instant turn off and probably an “unlike” of your page or worse, your customer moves to another brand/company.

I am not saying businesses shouldn’t have the human touch or add some posts that aren’t directed around their product range or business, but if you are getting frustrated with the lack of return or engagement from your social channels, then sometimes stepping back and setting some clear objectives and guidelines around posting is a pretty good place to start.  It will help give you the focus you need to plan and hopefully achieve your goals in that channel.

With a few guidelines, I think you can turn your social media channel around, make your efforts work, achieve your goals and start believing in social media once again.

Understand your customers (fans or followers, it’s the same)

Whether you own a coffee shop or a hardware store, try understanding who your customers are, what their buying habits are, what they may need help with, what are the product lifecycles – then offer up information, promo’s or insight based on your inside knowledge that will help.

A post planner is vital

Grab a cuppa on a Sunday afternoon and open up your calendar, whether its on the kitchen wall or your laptop and schedule in across the next month things you are going to post about. Think about special events or dates in the diary, national holidays, news events, any promotions that you may offer. You don’t need to overload it, or post every single day, but a planner will help you look forward to posting, rather than reactively posting day by day.

Add something of value

We’re all guilty of the odd inane post, but is it what your potential or existing customers need to read from your company. Be insightful with what you post, share links to news sites, Youtube videos, even facts about things in your industry… everyone loves a snippet of interesting info.

Follow your competitors

Unlike your personal Facebook account (where you wouldn’t befriend someone you didn’t like), follow your competitors online. See what they are up to, what they are posting and what their engagement is like and how customers interact – it can give you some great pointers.

Stop posting photos of kittens

Hey, I love a cute kitten like the rest of us, (its what the internet was made for yeah?) but hold back on the “what you find funny or cute” posts. Unless you are a comedian, think about your customers before you post- will they find it interesting, of help, insightful or even funny… do all your fans and followers have the same sense of humour as you?

Let your authority shine via your tone of voice

It doesn’t have to be all formal and boring, but think about how you would talk to a customer if they walked into your store, or called you on the phone, would you show them the cute kitten picture and then carry on trying to help them? Be authoritative in what you say.

… and finally its not all about the selling!

I strongly believe that social media should be an 80/20 rule, that you cant just sell or run offers 100% of the time or post about your products. Offering up information in return for their engagement and following is key to longevity and growth in social media.

So I am desperately trying not to kill the social in social media, or fun by that means either and I really believe that you show the personal side to your company, but ask yourself this; if someone was browsing your products in your store and you showed them a picture of what you had for dinner last night, what would their reaction be? Use the company social account  to be insightful, educating, for odd promotions, share news or events, but please stop using it for cute kittens and clichéd quotes and then hopefully you will regain your belief in social media, as its not going away.

Russell O’Sullivan

About Russell O’Sullivan

Russell O’Sullivan is an all-round Senior Digital Marketing Manager. With over 15 years of experience in the digital environment, he has worked across varied disciplines such Content Strategy/Marketing, PPC, SEO, Ecommerce, Social Media/Marketing, Web Design and UX.

  • James Challis

    Some great points Russell, I think your post highlights a growing trend with small businesses, especially because tracking the true return on investment with social media can be much more difficult than with other types of advertising such as PPC.

    • Russell O’Sullivan

      Hey James – yeah, we see a lot of smaller companies jumping on board to social media as it may come as second nature (due to people using personal accounts), but they find it hard to relate in true ROI, like you say against PPC or even offline.