If you’re trying to figure out whether your small business’s social media efforts are worth the time and resources, I recommend starting with a little exercise.
Imagine that tomorrow morning, you wake up and all of your business’s social media accounts have been permanently deleted.
Are you feeling relief? Anxiety? Indifference? What do you lose?
What do you gain?
Considering The Consequences
To be clear, the point of this exercise isn’t to say all small businesses should stop investing in social media marketing. The point is to think honestly about whether your business’s social media output is really having any impact of consequence.
For example, the exercise should help validate your social efforts if you had any of the following thoughts when you imagined your social media being terminated:
- “We’d lose a primary way to network, monitor and engage in actual conversations about our brand, industry and events that we attend.”
- “We’d have to find new ways to drive leads and build partnerships to make up for the loss and continue meeting our goals.”
- “No one would be able to find my tamale truck.”
These are just a few examples, but if this loss would trigger real consequences like these – consequences that would actually matter to your larger objectives, goals and vision – then you can stop wondering whether social is worthwhile at all and begin to quantify how these consequences translate in terms of your key performance indicators.
On the other hand, maybe your thoughts sounded more like one or more of these:
- “We’d lose out on all of those LinkedIn shares from our sales guys.”
- “There’d be no follower count increase to look forward to in the monthly reports.”
- “I’d have to find something else for Madison to do every morning.”
If this group rang true more than any from the previous group, there’s one of two conclusions we can draw:
- There’s opportunity on social media that your business is missing out on because your tactics on these channels aren’t effective.
- Your business should stop wasting resources on social media and try something with a better return on the investment.
Determining whether there’s opportunity for your business on social media should go beyond “We’re targeting female baby boomers, and they’re on Facebook.” Yes, these networks command massive user bases and have low barriers to entry when it comes to set up and advertising, but that doesn’t mean these are necessarily channels on which your marketing should focus.
What needs to happen is a real investigation into what your potential customers are actually interested in seeing on social media, how that lines up with what your business has to offer, and how the intersection between the two lines up with your marketing goals.
It’s marketing 101, and yet when it comes to social media, businesses often feel they must charge ceaselessly ahead – churning out tweet after tweet regardless of how nebulous the opportunity or inconsequential the results. The tendency is understandable, given the completely disproportionate attention social marketing gets compared with boring lame old channels like print, direct mail or radio (which, interesting side note, often perform well for small businesses).
There are even memes and videos about the misguided, silly old-person mentality of even thinking about social media ROI, like the one below:
But what if your business isn’t even seeing the less tangible benefits of social media?
If you’re struggling to think of real consequences should your social media accounts disappear into permanent oblivion, consider this: what if you reallocated any budget along with the time spent creating, curating, approving, revising, scheduling, checking feeds, engaging, re-checking feeds and reporting social media to another marketing channel?
Is it possible there’s another clearer opportunity that could be helping you hit your goals?