Why social media won’t save your small business
The statistics are impressive (to say the least).
Then there’s the rags to riches stories, like this one…
So surely, social media is the Holy Grail of marketing for small businesses? Well, not quite. 39% of small businesses feel social media is not working. The question is why?
As you’re about to discover, it’s nowhere near as cut and dry as you may think, and if your marketing is failing, social media isn’t going to save it. Here’s why (and what to do about it).
Social is a narrow viewpoint on what should be a diverse collection of interactions
The average target consumer has 7 interactions before they produce an ‘optimum’ online purchase, and those 7 interactions aren’t likely to happen through social media alone. More typically they’ll include phone calls, brochure drops, blogs, emails, product demonstrations and more. And if you think that these marketing mediums are fuddy-duddy (let’s face it, it can be easy to be caught up in the social media hype) you may want to crunch through these numbers…
Consumers who purchase products through email spend 138% more than those who don’t receive email offers.
The average return for direct mail campaigns is between 18 and 20 percent.
Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
Are your followers even following?
Recent changes in Facebook’s algorithm mean that your organic reach has probably plummeted recently (i.e. fewer and fewer followers are seeing your updates). Adam Mosseri, head of the Facebook News Feed, explained this decision was to…
“shift ranking to make News Feed more about connecting with people and less about consuming
media in isolation.”
Even more shocking, one study found that just 1% of users who like a business page will engage with it at some point (and after all that hard work, too – how depressing).
Some platforms are more effective than others (Instagram offers a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%, which is 58 times higher than on Facebook, and 120 times higher than on Twitter).
One size fits all?
Some small businesses simply don’t fit into the social world very well – particularly those with high-ticket products or services. No matter how many likes or comments you have, it isn’t going to make the sale when it comes to buying a £15,000 extension or a £4,000 designer sofa.
Time is of the essence – spend it wisely
Some small businesses have prioritised social media over tried and tested marketing tools – such as having a website and delivering direct mail.
As a small business you must be choosy about how you spend your time – is interacting on social media more valuable than networking (if your social followers do engage in the first place?). There’s limited research into the ROI of networking, although one study’s results were compelling (but – and here’s the rub – you have to commit)…
|Years of Membership:||0-1||1-2||2-3||3-4||4+|
|Largest single referral|
(percent by category)
Targeting the local area
As a small business, unless you’re based exclusively online, you need to target customers within a set radius. This introduces a little complexity to your social strategy, and while an ‘easy’ fix for this may seem to be social paid advertising, 61% of small businesses see no return on their social media activities.
The High Street Battle
If your business is based on the High Street, you’re likely feeling the squeeze from falling footfall that runs alongside skyrocketing business rates and one in every five pounds being splurged online.
Let me be clear – such seismic shifts call for an equally as powerful strategy, which can’t simply be based on social media alone. Some ideas include…
- Lobbying your local authority for free parking (research shows that nine in 10 Brits would visit high streets more often if free parking was offered)
- Joining forces with others to form an industry movement (head to Save the High Street as a good starting point)
- Collaborating with fellow high street-based businesses to put on events
- Providing genuine value out on the shop floor that your customers simply cannot get elsewhere
And for more ideas (all 201 of them) – read The High Street UK 2020 Research
In the face of a lot of adversity, one potentially promising piece of news for these small businesses emerged this week, when Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a possible tax on online businesses such as Amazon (an arch nemesis of the high street). The aim of which would be to level the playing field.
“More and more of us are buying online. Indeed, Britain has the biggest percentage of online shopping of any
major developed economy. That means the high street will change.”Chancellor Philip Hammond (2019)
Last (but by no means least) – is there a deeper problem with your business?
If your small business is on tough times, you’re far from alone. There are many reasons why around a third of all businesses fail in the first two years. If the outlook of your business feels grave, step back, breathe, and uncover the root cause of the problem before moving forwards. Here are some key questions that may be worth exploring…
- Are there new competitors?
- Has the market changed or your product become obsolete?
- Have your costs shot up, while your profits have plateaued?
- Are you in the wrong location or targeting the wrong demographic?
- Is your business underfunded and you’re unable to maintain sufficient stock?
Your business bank manager could be a great place to begin for advice, after which you may want to check out…
Human Resource Solutions for free HR resources
HMRC for tax and other financial advice
Enterprise Nation for advice and events
Three signs that you should up and leave social media
- You don’t have the cash (and time) to do social media right.
- You don’t have a strategy (and don’t have a deep understanding of how to create one) – that includes metrics, planned content, a competitor analysis, and more.
- Your business is lacking the staff it needs to support social media sufficiently – that means being ready to engage with every comment and direct message (42% of consumers expect a response on social media within 60 minutes).
All of which is not to say that social media doesn’t have a place within your small business marketing strategy – only that it’s not the be-all and end-all. Ultimately social media demands expertise, and unless you can drop everything else to master it, you may pay hand over fist for few results (while neglecting other key areas of your small business).