Nicholas and I spend a lot of time meeting with small business owners. We like learning about their experiences and gaining an understanding of the challenges they face. Every single business owner we sit down with has one question on their mind: “How can I make social media marketing work for me?” And that’s a great question.
But to answer that question, we first have to understand its roots. The entrepreneur who asks us that question already recognizes the importance of connecting in the loud, social environment of the Internet today. Prior to meeting with us, they know they want to use the latest platforms that everyone is using: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Because of that, it usually doesn’t take much convincing as to why their business and their brand need to engage. They want to learn how to use these platforms.
The problem with that question, however, is the answer can be very sobering. Here are three obstacles most small business owners face when they want to get involved in social media marketing:
- Social media takes time. If you’ve read our material before, you know how highly we regard engaging with audiences on social media. Instead of simply using social platforms as another place to post links, observing what people are actually talking about can go a long way for your brand. The challenge brands face is allocating the appropriate amount of time required to correctly use these platforms. Often times they would much rather use their time on the core operations of their business.
- Results do not happen overnight. Unlike traditional internet marketing, social media is a very personal approach. It requires, at some level, one-on-one communication for brands of all sizes. This requires a lot of effort. For many small businesses, they need “advertising” efforts that can see results quickly to know if it’s working or not. The problem? Social media marketing is not black magic or a silver bullet.
- Budgets are usually limited. For the business owner who doesn’t (for the aforementioned reasons) have the time to be persistent with these efforts, someone else has to do it for them. So either a staff member within the company picks up the responsibility, or if they do not have that resource they look to an agency to take care of their social media marketing campaign. Far too often, proprietors are hesitant to allocate the right amount of capital for these options.
These issues are added on to the every day challenges the entrepreneur faces. Not only do they have to be selling 24/7, meet payroll, and keep their customers happy, they now must have a serious social marketing effort. That can be daunting.
Fortunately for those who do decide to be serious about their efforts, it can pay off. The ROI of social media depends on the effort. You get what you give. Putting in the time and being patient enough to see these efforts yield results takes determination and mental toughness. But chances are if you are a small business owner and entrepreneur, you already have those intangible assets.