As pervasive as Facebook and Twitter are, it’s not always easy to sell a small business on the idea that social marketing is for them.
Lots of business owners will admit they “need to figure out this Facebook thing” but not all are convinced that it’s important. A lot of small business owners see Facebook as a fad and Twitter as the “anti-social” social media.
For those of you firmly in the “it’s a fad” camp or even if you’re just on the fence and waiting for a shove over, here are a few good reasons to cast aside your doubts and get on this particular bandwagon. In a couple of years, when there’s a new fad, we’ll talk about it. But for now, this is what we’ve got and this is where marketing is hot.
1. If It’s Good Enough For Frito Lay, BMW And Office Max, It’s Good Enough For You.
Just about every major national brand is on Facebook and a great number of them are on Twitter. Pier One? Both. Allstate? Both. Whole Foods? Both. Starbucks? Both. Southwest Airlines? Both.
I can tell you from personal experience that the minute something goes wrong with my internet or cable TV service, I hop onto Twitter and Comcast responds in about 2.6 seconds, follows up with a phone call and gets everything resolved.
Do you want to snub the playground that the coolest kids are hanging out in, or do you want to join the game?
And in the case of social media it’s better for you than for the big brands, because unlike expensive TV spots, glossy magazine ads and radio commercials, the cost of entry to social media is zero.
Sure, there’s a marketing expense associated with hiring a professional to help you run and manage your campaigns but it’s a heck of a lot less than traditional advertising expenses where not only do you have to hire a professional to develop the creative and write the scripts, but you then have to pay for the ad space in whatever limited run you can afford.
So stop staring in at the fence. Social media levels the playing field and lets small businesses get the attention they deserve. With a much more affordable investment you can compete in the same space as the big brands and run campaigns that are just as effective in your market.
2. Your Customers Are There.
I want you to go home tonight and do a little experiment. Watch the TV commercials instead of fast forwarding though them, and count how many of those commercials end by directing you to the company’s website vs. the company’s Facebook page. I bet you’ll find a bunch.
Do you know why? Because those are the smart companies, who know that their customers are logging into Facebook a dozen times a day to see the latest photo of their neighbor’s cute cat, the newest Rebecca Black parody posted by their best friend or where their boss last “checked in” on a Saturday afternoon.
Oh, and while they’re on Facebook? They can see your latest update along with the cats, videos and even the updates of those big brands we just talked about. Sure you have to entice your customers to “Like” your Facebook page first, but that’s a one-time deal, and then you’re in front of them and can essentially advertise over and over and over, without asking them to exert one iota of additional effort.
You never have to worry whether they remember your website address because you’re going to be putting it in front of them regularly. You don’t have to worry if they’re fast forwarding through your expensive commercial because you’re going to be chatting with them personally. You don’t have to wonder if they’re getting your emails because you’re going to be giving them the coupon codes and announcing the new products right there where they’re looking – every single day.
3. You Can Learn Things You Can’t With Other Types Of Advertising.
You’ve got 5,000 people on your email list. Every month you send out a newsletter letting customers know about your new products, telling them about your services or offering them a great deal if they do business with you. If you’re using a good email service, you can get a good idea of how many people are opening and reading your emails and what links they’re clicking. You may even get some feedback as people unsubscribe letting you know why they unsubscribed.
This is all useful information that you can use to improve your marketing and generate more business. But how many of the people who read your email found it interesting? How many people wished you had given them a little more information? How many people hate your cappuccino scented candles and wish you had vanilla bean instead?
Email marketing, banner ads, print, TV or radio… these are all types of “push” marketing. You pick your message and you send it out to hopefully become implanted in the brains of your customers. But social media is “pull” marketing, where you can go out there as the humble, customer-centric business that you are and find out what your customers want and need.
How? Ask. Put a question in a status update. Run a mini-poll. Hold a contest. Use an app to generate feedback. The more you know about your customers, the better you’ll be able to refine your services around what they need. And the more you give them what they need, the more they will do business with you.
Social media gives you the perfect opportunity to find out what your customers are thinking and to use that to your advantage.
4. There’s Still Something To Be Said For Loyalty.
In a tough economy, it doesn’t take much to get a “brand-loyal” person to switch to the next cheapest thing, especially if the quality is comparable. And face it: plenty of us do things that a lot of other people do. To our eternal disappointment, we are not unique snowflakes. So what’s a business to do when, in the customer’s eyes, we’re all generally interchangeable? We turn to social media.
To a large extent, business is still about personal preference. People do business with people they like. And studies have demonstrated that people make purchasing decisions based less on logic than on emotion. Especially in an age of “information overload”, there’s only so much that a human brain can process.
In the face of all that information, decision-making tends to shut down and emotion tends to kick in. Does this feel right? Do I like this company? Can I identify with this? Social media gives you the platform to build the relationship, develop the trust and create the emotional bond that will get customers coming back to you again and again instead of turning to a competitor, even one that may be “cheaper”.
5. It’s There.
Whether you like it or not, Facebook and Twitter are there. Businesses are using them every day along with millions of consumers. It’s the direction marketing is trending right now and it’s an opportunity you’d be wise to meet. Like I said, we might be talking about a different fad or a new opportunity in a couple of years but right now these are the tools available.
You can’t avoid social media by shrugging it off or diminish its potential by telling yourself it’s for someone else, but not for you. Imagine if businesses had decided that television was just some newfangled rage and refused to take its marketing potential seriously.
And who knows, TV commercials might very well be an archaic curiosity in the future.
The influence and reach of Facebook and Twitter is growing every day. That’s where people are comfortable and where people are looking for friendships, relationships, entertainment, recommendations and connections. One friend’s “Like” of your product is worth more than a thousand email campaigns. It’s a community that your business can be a part of and it’s there, waiting for you to join.
Marketing is a moving target and right now social media is hovering near the center. So take advantage of it and capitalize on the opportunity for creativity and engagement that it offers.
You won’t be sorry if you give it a shot, but you will regret it if you don’t.