Social media marketing is one of the greatest, yet most widely understood developments in the marketing world of the past decade. While some companies have risen to prominence based almost solely on their social media prowess, others have found it to be a waste of time, and still others flat-out refuse to adopt the strategy in any capacity.
The underlying motivation for abandoning or ignoring social media marketing in most business owners is fear, though that fear can manifest in a number of different ways. These seven fears are all commonplace in the business world, and they’ve unfortunately stopped thousands of business owners from ever giving social media marketing a chance:
Some business owners have convinced themselves that social media platforms are foreign, alien things that you can only understand if you’re a teenager or a millennial. They haven’t taken a moment to learn how Facebook timelines work, or why Twitter is used for different types of interactions than LinkedIn. The problem here is a reluctance to learn a new system from the outset, as the learning process is typically pretty straightforward. A few hours on any platform are all it takes for even a novice user to grow accustomed to the basics—and in many cases, the basics are all you need to be effective.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+, and Tumblr are just a handful of the most popular social media apps available. That number grows bigger every day, and to make things worse, there are multiple ways for businesses to use every platform. The sheer number of options is overwhelming to an uninitiated party. However, you don’t need to be involved on every platform, posting all the time. In fact, the more focused you are with your strategy, the better—the key is identifying which platform(s) will be the most relevant and most profitable to pursue.
Social media marketing is often seen as a new wing of marketing, and in order to tackle it, an entrepreneur would need to hire someone new who specializes in it. That means a significant extra cost for a questionable long-term benefit. However, a full-time person is rarely necessary for a social media marketing strategy (except for some larger brands and corporations, who might even need multiple people). For most small- to mid-sized businesses, social media responsibilities can be absorbed by a writer, an SEO or other marketing contact, or even split up and divided amongst your core team.
The purpose of social media marketing is debatable, but too many entrepreneurs are skeptical of its benefits simply due to how it’s been presented to them. The reality is, social media marketing isn’t some magical portal that will suddenly flood paying customers to your business. It has a number of subtle benefits, such as increasing your visibility on the web (and providing information to social-savvy customers), but most importantly, it can drive lots of people to your website. From there, it’s a separate responsibility to optimize your site for conversion.
Some entrepreneurs are so familiar with traditional methods of networking and advertising (such as printed ads and in-person networking), they refuse to change to anything different. However, adopting social media marketing as a business doesn’t necessitate that you instantly drop all your other efforts. Your traditional and social media efforts can be held in balance with one another, giving you the best of both worlds (should you choose to continue with both).
The objective value of social media is hard to calculate, and as a result, it scares many entrepreneurs away. If an entrepreneur spends a few hundred dollars a month (or even a few hours a week), they want to be convinced that the time and money is going to yield a positive ROI. Since most of social media’s effects are indirect or hard to measure, it can be difficult to calculate its precise added revenue potential. Still, the increase in traffic alone should be enough to justify your investment, even in the short term.
Some entrepreneurs see social media marketing as just a fad that’s going to pass in a few years when everyone gets sick of it. But like it or not, social media is here to stay. Older apps like Facebook and Twitter are pushing the boundaries of what social apps can do, and new generations are constantly hungry for new breakthroughs in the medium. As long as people continue using technology as a means of communication, there will continue to be a space for social media marketing.
Social media marketing isn’t as volatile or as questionable as it seems to be. If properly understood and implemented, it can yield a positive ROI for almost any business. It’s true that it will take time, effort, and research for your business to use it effectively, but the same can be said of any marketing strategy.
Ultimately, you don’t have much to lose. If you’ve thus far been reluctant to adopt any social media strategy, give it a shot! Signing up for most platforms is free, and even a minimal investment of time can lead to a worthwhile result.