Social Media Marketing – NOT for Everyone?

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After 10 years of preaching the merits of search engine optimization to sceptical business owners, I’ve found there’s a new challenge in online marketing and it’s a funny one.

Nearly all business owners I meet think they should use social media marketing to promote their businesses, but a good number have a real aversion to using social networking channels.

I am finding many people are afraid that if they don’t start using social media they’ll end up behind their competition – or even that they are just going to be missing out on this ‘next big thing’. I’ll be called in for a consultation on using social media for a business, and after discussing the ins and outs of a successful social media campaign, I see there’s something not quite clicking — but as averse to using social media the client may be, he still feels that he must use it.

Do you convince such people that they need to push on, as social media marketing is a necessity these days, or is social media just not for everyone?

Whilst we’ve all heard the benefits of using social media to promote businesses, the dilemma is that using social media as an effective marketing tool also requires:

  • some technical ability (albeit pretty basic);
  • time, when you may already have issues with time management;
  • putting yourself ‘out there’, the social aspect of social media is intimidating to many;
  • creative writing skills;
  • buy-in from management that may be concerned about dealing with unfriendly comments, time and money spent, etc.;
  • a budget to hire a professional to get started or run your campaign, if you just cannot manage it internally.

Even after discussing the ways of managing all of these issues – sometimes over and over again – I still get resistance in many cases.

“I can’t see myself telling the world what I’m having for breakfast.”

“I just don’t get Facebook.”

“It’s just not ME!”

So I’ve become a Social Media Marketing Evangelist, and I’ve been able to convert nearly all of those ‘with little faith’ through:

  • inspiring with case studies of related businesses that have shown real results through social media marketing;
  • brain storming content ideas related to the areas of the business that the client is most passionate about;
  • using channels that are most suited to the clients skills and interests – videos for YouTube may really excite a person less inclined to write blog posts;
  • working out a time management plan that fits with the clients’ other responsibilities;
  • identifying others that may assist the client (at no or low cost) – teenage children are a good resource for sole traders, while using a variety of staff members works in larger organisations;
  • looking at the higher cost of alternative ‘traditional’ offline or PPC advertising;
  • showing how to set a realistic budget for social media marketing in case professional assistance is needed on a regular basis;
  • setting up tools for integrating accounts and automated posting;
  • discussing the other benefits of using social media – communicating with and retaining existing customers, networking, keeping tabs on competitors, etc.;
  • meeting the sceptical parties in an organisation to get their buy-in and discuss setting up a social media marketing plan and policy.

Usually at some point along this path I see the client become more comfortable with using social media.  Most become full converts after signing on new clients and making more sales through their social media efforts, for example:

  • a small business owner, who barely used email a year ago, is now happily chatting with prospective clients on Twitter on a daily basis;
  • a sole trader that couldn’t see himself ‘rattling on about my daily habits online’, has a popular YouTube channel showing off his services;
  • a marketing assistant that had to struggle with the business owner for the okay set up a social media campaign, now amazes him with the number of sales they get through their Facebook page and Twitter.

There are still those who just don’t get it and may never get it.  They may have heartedly set up a Facebook Pages that is only posted to once a month, or Twitter accounts that have just the very first post from a training session. They are not going to see much result from such efforts and this will probably confirm their fears that Social Media Marketing is NOT for them or doesn’t work altogether.

Perhaps the super sceptics will have to take their chances using more traditional marketing methods, but as there has been such a shift in marketing practices toward using social media, they may very well fall behind their competitors and will have to come to terms with it sooner or later. In this case they are probably best off hiring a professional social media consultant to run their campaigns for them.

Social Media Marketing may not suit everyone initially, but it’s definitely something that business owners, marketing and sales staff do need to come to terms with to be competitive in the business world today.

Ann Donnelly
For ten years Ann Donnelly has been helping businesses achieve their goals using the internet; starting with developing static brochure websites to now offering fully interactive, customizable ‘Web 2.0’ online communities that are optimized for best results on search engines and integrated with social media channels.
Ann Donnelly
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  • Kathy

    Great examples of what is involved in social media from the business perspective. I have ran into the exact same issues. Businesses want to be involved but do not want the additional workload. I find it easier to sell them on the concept of SEO instead of any other traffic generating method.

  • greggiersch

    It's interesting that fear is such a motivating factor for the “not right for social media” crowd. It's similar to lawyers all buying full page yellow book ads and not taking the time to differentiate themselves from the competitors on the next page.

    Your second bullet point hits on what is missing when fear is the motivator:
    • “brain storming content ideas related to the areas of the business that the client is most passionate about.”

    While the trend is to online and social, there are still plenty of options. Whatever media they choose, it's the content that will count and the best content will come from what they are most passionate about.

  • Ann Donnelly

    Thanks for the comments, Greg and Kathy.

    Greg, I didn't discuss it specifically but I think the fear and content connection is that, at first, the person cannot imagine what they can write about and afraid that they'll have nothing to post that will make them look good – or properly promote the business. During the brain storming session I usually get the 'a-ha moment' when they see that there are really lots of things to post about. Then the flood gates open 🙂

    • greggiersch

      The “aha moment” is the best part of the job.

  • Outsourcing Philippines

    Social is very important now a days especially to businesses. It helps in marketing….

    • Facebook Messages

      It can help, as long as your target audience is listening to your comments.

  • Roger

    I work in an industry were a lot of our customers would not want to be associated with us, or even ashamed to be a customer, so we've often disregarded social media as it relies on people associating themselves with you in some way.

    I guess my question is: Is there any merit to using social media if the population wouldn’t want to associate themselves with us? Can social media have a benefit worth the time if we can only reach a small number of people?

    • Ann Donnelly

      Maybe quality rather than quantity. Many people underestimate the number of people they will actually reach. You'll have to be creative in your angle if people will not want to be openly connected with you – maybe a humorous approach – hard to say not knowing what business you are in. Maybe find channels where people can be anonymous.

  • WebDesignIndia

    nice one

  • pallavi

    nice one

  • Tom

    Hi Ann,

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said

    “Most become full converts after signing on new clients and making more sales through their social media efforts” When they see the tangible results of their campaign that is when they realize it was all worthwhile.

  • Pam Sissons

    Ha! Great post, Ann! I have SEO clients who have heard so much about social media that they are adamant about getting started with it. Once they begin, they have some difficulty seeing past the superflous “Here I am” benefits in order to get to the real benefits of using it. Takes some education for sure…and patience!

    • Ann Donnelly

      Glad I am not the only one, Pam!

  • WebHosting Guru

    It is pretty serious for a business owner to have a social media presence to be competitive. But to be able to be effective on social media, it needs to be successful. It is not just setting up your social media presence but maintaining it is the key to be successful in it. If not properly maintained, instead of bringing some benefits to your business, it may end up destroying your business instead.

  • TamarUK

    I've yet to see any funeral parlours doing interesting things in the social space, and maybe I'd advise them to try PPC first, but…! 😀

    Completely agree with your points though – excuses are far too easy!

  • Facebook Messages

    I'm going to be a little bit controversial here, I honestly think that most people whom “do social media” just don't get the point. Social media should be used to help with your objectives, albeit sales, establishing yourself as an expert and shouldn't be an end in itself. Social media should be used to create value, and shouldn't detract from your overall objectives – like any other avenue if social media isn't given you a return then it's something that should be avoid, the converse is also true. Many people do social media for the sake of social media – for example, waves of people use twitter – but what they need to do is measure responses, unless it creates a measurable benefit, what's the point?

  • Jam Morgan

    Social media marketing is really became important for any online business. Competition is increasing and therefore business owners want their interactive presence on social media websites. Social media marketing service is required by almost all business owners.

  • asset protection

    This article gets to the core of an issue that I have been musing about for at least 2 years: If everyone is on Facebook, doesn't that become the new box that everyone has to fit into? I look at the internet as not being owned by anyone, not even the search engine companies. To me, every “inch” of the internet is a playing field that I want to stretch out onto. Social networking sites are great for 12 year olds, but do they really satisfy what adults are trying to do on the internet? Who cares if someone “likes” someone else on the internet. Tremendously shallow and not good for business marketing, in my opinion.

  • Chelsea Di Palma

    I really enjoyed the article. I have this debate constantly at university with lecturers and students alike about the relevance of some social media platforms with business. Not only should the platforms be adopted in accordance with the businesses strategic goals but need to be maintained in the correct format to give value to consumers. With out these basic rules social media can just become a clunky addition to the business.