How important is social media marketing for small businesses?

When deciding how to allocate your marketing budget as a small business it’s crucial to consider what will deliver the results you’re looking for. You may not have infinite resources to spend on marketing activity so being clear on what you invest in and why is super important for small business owners.

Social media can be a highly effective marketing tool for small businesses. There are a range of platforms from the likes of Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and LinkedIn, with new platforms popping up on a regular basis too. It’s about identifying which platforms are most relevant for your audience. As a B2B marketer I’m most often working with clients who utilise LinkedIn, Twitter and potentially YouTube.

As mentioned the first thing to clarify are your goals. Are you looking to generate more leads, drive more people to events, increase brand awareness or test a new service. By having clarity on what you’re looking to achieve we can start to value the importance of social media marketing towards that end.

For instance social media is an excellent way to increase brand awareness, it can be really good if you’re looking to expand your business into new locations or markets. On the flip side if your goals are to generate leads and/or increase revenue, social media is unlikely be a direct contributor to that goal.

This is because social media is generally focused earlier on in the customer’s buying journey. I.e. social media plays it part during the awareness and consideration phases and rarely is the channel where new clients come to convert. There are some exceptions but as a small business with limited funds we need to play the odds with our marketing pounds.

One of the great things about social media is in many ways is levels the playing field with big corporate brands and competitors. Sure they’ll have more budgets, time and resource but that rarely outperforms the authenticity and engagement small businesses can get on social media with a bit of creativity. 

People often say social media is great for small businesses as it’s free. Although technically true if you’re not using their advertising platforms it’s a misnomer as in reality to make social media work you need to invest a lot of time in your content creation. 

If you do have some budget to assign to the paid social media side of things one of the strengths of their advertising platforms is the ability to highly target specific audiences. For example on LinkedIn you can target people in certain job roles, working in a specific industry for a company of a size you want to reach.

Another thing to note is that even if social media isn’t the channel that brings in the new leads or isn’t directly revenue generating it can play a part in that sales journey. To give an example a prospect might originally find your website via Google, they then subscribe to your email newsletter and maybe even attend a webinar, then before they book a consultation call they could visit your social media profiles to see what others say about you. 

This isn’t always obvious but it’s amazing how often that type of process takes place. It’s why it’s so important to setup accurate tracking when you’re running digital marketing campaigns as you need to know which channels help drive your leads. I’ve seen brands pause social activity as they can’t see direct leads and then see a huge drop-off in conversions as they didn’t realise the value it brough to help nurture prospects.

Ultimately you need to be crystal clear on your goals and then consider whether investing in social media marketing will help you achieve them. If so, pick the one or two platforms where your target audience is a focus on creating high quality content on a consistent basis. Ensure you setup tracking to see the impact of your social media marketing on your overall customer journeys and then use that data to iterate and continually improve your content creation. 

As always if you have any questions hit me up on Twitter or if you’d like help creating your marketing strategy request a consultation call with me today.