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4 HUGE Misconceptions About Social Media and Online Marketing

marketing small business social media Jan 28, 2014

 

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If there is one place many business owners make a mistake with their marketing plan, it is on social media.  While business owners have slowly come to recognize that they should be on social networking sites, many do not understand what is critical to their business when they are there.

Marketing your business online should be well thought out and integrated into your total marketing plan.  Since what you do online stays there, you want to make sure you are making the most of social media while recognizing its limitations for your business.  How you represent your business on social media can draw potential clients to your business, or keep them at arm's length.  It is really all about understanding the importance of social media to your business and using it within its limitations to best suit your business needs.

Here are 4 HUGE misconceptions many small business owners and entrepreneurs have and why you may need to re-evaluate them.

1. They Don’t Need It or It is a Waste of Time

First, let me start off with some statistics: More than 71% of businesses are on Facebook, 59% on Twitter and 50% blog.  With almost 3/4 of businesses being on Facebook, if you are not there, you are missing out on a market your competitors are already tapping!  Your competitors are already there building loyalty with their fan base.  As a business owner, you can’t afford NOT to be on social media.  I started out with statistics to show you where your competitors are!

On top of thinking they don’t need it, other small business owners think it’s a waste of their time.  In all honesty, it may be.  Here’s why:  Your time is valuable and you want to spend it where you are getting the most of each minute.  If you are a busy business owner, you may want to hire someone to manage your social media and online presence.  This will allow you to spend your time where it makes the most sense for your business while still providing your online fans with valuable content and engagement.  If you do have enough time in your days to manage your own social media, my advice would be to schedule a specific amount of time to devote to it and keep yourself in check by sticking to it.  Otherwise, you may find yourself wasting precious hours on things that are not making you money.  It is far too easy to let time slip away on social networking sites.  For this reason alone, I advise if you cannot stick to a schedule on this to hire someone who can do it for you.  If you think you can’t afford this in your budget, think of all the potential sales you are missing because you spent time online instead of in front of potential clients.

2. They Can Do It Themselves

As I have already mentioned, the time factor alone is something that should be considered.  On top of this is the fact that many business owners do not have a grasp on what it is they should actually be doing online to help their business.  Some post and spray and hope something sticks, with no real plan.  Many do not understand what actually engages and interests their fan base, which is key to a successful online presence.

Many times business owners have every intention of handling their own social media marketing, but then get busy with other aspects of their business and allow their social media presence to suffer.  If this happens, you should hire someone to manage it for you.  It is critical that you maintain an active online presence.  If you are not active, your fan base will either lose interest, may think you are not in business, or may think you are not serious about your business.  People today have short attention spans and business owners need to stay in front of their fans – or the competition will!

3. The Need to Post ONLY About Their Business, Sell, and Promote Their Business

While the point of establishing social media accounts for business is to bring awareness about the business, many business owners make the mistake of using social media to solely promote their businesses.  The problem with this is that people on social media do NOT want to be sold.  As a rule of thumb, only 20% of your posts should be self-promotional.  The other 80 % should be used to establish relationships with your audience and engage them in meaningful dialog regarding things that pertain to your business.  This could be discussions on specific topics that are of interest to your fans or something else that relates to how they do business.  Ask questions and be creative.  The point of social media is to establish a relationship with your fans, engage them and set yourself up as an industry expert.  If all you are doing is talking about your business, your fans have no way to tell whether or not you are actually someone they should trust in your industry.  Think of social media as an ongoing conversation about what you do and the value you bring to your audience.  If you sell too much on your business page, you will lose some of your fans because they will tune out what you are saying.

4. Social Media Will Increase Sales

This is by FAR the biggest misconception about social media.  So many times, I go into a meeting with a business owner and their first question to me is how I can help them increase their sales.  At this point, I have to stop them and educate them.  Social media marketing is NOT designed to directly increase sales!!!

So what does social media marketing do for a small business if it does not increase sales??  Social media helps to build a very critical online reputation and establish the business and business owner as an authority in their field.  By developing and maintaining an authoritative presence on social media a business can draw potential clients to their business.  Not only this, but when you handle online questions and problems with grace and great customer service, you are showing your fan base that you care about what is important to them.  All of these things will eventually lead to more sales and an increase in your bottom line.  However, this takes time and does not happen overnight.  When you look at social media marketing for your business, you should not be looking at it as a short-term “fix”, but rather a long-term ongoing relationship with your customers, potential customers, and supporters.  All of these things help you in ways that may not be immediately measurable but will impact your business over time.

In conclusion, I will say that social media is a MUST for businesses.   It should be something that is part of your overall marketing plan.  As a business owner, you should make sure you are not spending too much time on it, but instead spending time on the things that are bringing money into your business. To do this, you may want to outsource social media.  You want to maintain a positive and ongoing online presence to establish and maintain your reputation as an expert in your field.  While you want to make sure people know about your business, what you offer and any promotions, only “sell” about 20% of the time.  It is really your knowledge and authority that will sell you to people, not your sales and promotions.  People work with people they trust.  When they know that you know your industry, they will want to work with you!