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Why Social Media Advertising Won't Save Your Business
It's a commonly accepted rule when it comes to business that most small businesses will fail within the first few years. Running a business isn't easy; you have to find product-market fit, compete with other companies, navigate regulations and ever-changing costs and a host of other considerations. Having so many moving parts of managing isn't everyone's skill set, and we all have to face the fact that your business can fail.
Mine can, too; in fact, it's been on the brink many times, but as an entrepreneur, you continue despite the failures; you see them as opportunities to grow and learn. The most robust businesses are the ones that adapt to failure, pivot and can outlast their competition.
Social media success stories
As a business owner, you may have been sold the idea that social media is the way to success, and perhaps it was a few years ago, but that sure has changed. Social media is like any new piece of real estate; there's a gold rush and an eventual consolidation. Those who adopted social media early could secure large followings and traffic relatively cheaply in the niche.
As news spread about the ease and connection of social media, so too comes more competition for those eyeballs, driving up the price of attention and the ability to capture audiences with organic content.
Yes, we always hear about the fantastic success stories of viral content, and we laud over the clever social media campaigns that resonate with users. Still, these are all cherry-picked stories used to obscure the truth. The fact remains, a large percentage of business owners are wasting time and money on social media; this can range from small businesses to startups to larger companies.
The return on investment doesn't fit your business model, and that's okay; social media isn't for everyone. Yes, the number of users and engagement times are growing, but that doesn't mean it's a blanket rule that applies to all niches, products and businesses.
According to reports by Yahoo finance, the failure rate on social media for small businesses can be as high as 95%, so you're not in the minority when it comes to the failed social media campaign.
Social media marketing is nowhere near as cut and dry as you may think, and if your marketing is failing, social media isn't going to save it.
Social media engagement is needed to be reported in context.
The data we often see coming out of social is a narrow viewpoint on what should be a diverse collection of interactions that, in my opinion, should be better categorised.
There'sThere's a common assumption I see among many business owners; they think if you advertise on a platform that it's all about instant leads. The truth is marketing is about repetition and constant engagement.
The average target consumer has between 3 - 7 interactions before producing an online purchase lead, and those seven interactions aren't likely to happen through social media alone.
More typically, they'll include other engagement points such as phone calls, brochure drops, blogs, emails, product demonstrations and more. The reality is, if you're not working on these channels in conjunction, you're wasting your time on your primary platform.
Yes, content marketing and email might not give you the enormous number return on traffic and direct conversion rate, but they form part of the path to conversion.
If this weren't the case, you wouldn't see marketers specialising in different channels and businesses having their fingers in all these marketing pies.
Organic reach is dead.
Let's face it; this isn't 2012 anymore; organic reach on any social media site these days is dead. If you're not creating meme pages or short-form amusing content and jumping on trends, you're unlikely to be seen. Yes, some businesses make a living out of cleverly leveraging trends but not every business can be relevant to every trend.
If you're still wasting time posting to social media every day or paying someone to do this for you, you've probably noticed that it's not gotten any better.
Yes, it's nice to have an active social media page, so people know you're still around should they check for social proof but trying to milk organic traffic is a losing game for most businesses.
Does one size fit all?
Some small businesses don't fit into the social world very well – particularly those with high-ticket products or services. Yes, your audience may be using Facebook or Twitter, but guess what, this might be shocking; they're not INTERESTED in looking at your product or service while they're on Facebook.
No matter how many likes or comments you have, it isn't going to make the sale for a home renovation or a designer sofa any easier.
Time is of the essence – spend it wisely.
As a small business, you have limited resources and need to focus on ROI in time spent and money. If your business isn't in the social media favoured categories like health, travel, food, and fashion, then prioritised social media over tried and tested marketing tools, paid search, content marketing, improving your website and delivering direct mail.
Targeting the local area
As a small business, it is often limited to trying to service their local area, yes we can run campaigns based on certain geolocations, but sadly not everyone in your location may be spending time on social media. It may be better to focus on securing direct phone numbers, emails or liaising with local publications. It may be that local SEO or map listing ads work best for you instead of trying to be cute on social channels.
Is it the channel, or is it the business?
Social media may not be the issue at all, and it could be that your business incentives are out of wack.
Here are some key questions that may be worth exploring
- Are there new competitors?
- What is your competition doing
- Has the market changed?
- Has your product become obsolete?
- Have your costs shot up while your profits have plateaued?
- Are you in the wrong location or targeting the wrong demographic?
- Is your business underfunded, and you're unable to maintain sufficient stock?
These are essential considerations to review and something a marketing agency cannot solve, no matter how talented. The fact is marketing agencies offer that marketing. They do not provide product-market fit or solutions to macroeconomic and consumer behaviour changes.
Social media platforms and social media marketing agencies are not going to tell you this; they'll gladly take your money and run the campaign YOU ask for, even if it's going to fail.
This doesn't make social media or the agency terrible; it just means it wasn't a good fit for your business, and this is a call you will have to make sooner or later.
Social media prospecting
If you're still keen on social media as an advertising channel, you should speak to a social media marketing agency and get multiple quotes for a prospecting campaign. Ensure you review each channel performance and eliminate them one by one; some can be obvious eliminations; for example, if your audience is not on Snapchat or your budget is limited, perhaps better to focus on platforms like Facebook.
Other times, it's about actually evaluating the cost of the platform to reach that audience and then reviewing is worth the cost per lead or sale from the platform. This can all be done using a prospecting campaign and allow you to make data-driven decisions.
Yes, sometimes prospecting campaigns can be money wasted, but that that's a risk all business owners have to take when trying to find and source new leads.
Your business may even be a social media flop, but that doesn't mean it has to be a total marketing failure; there are other channels. It's up o you to find out which one suits your business and rewards your efforts, compliments your skillset and matches your budget.
Are you looking to promote your business?
South African Business owners can create your free business listing on nichemarket. The more information you provide about your business, the easier it will be for your customers to find you online. Registering with nichemarket is easy; all you will need to do is head over to our sign up form and follow the instructions.
If you require a more detailed guide on how to create your profile or your listing, then we highly recommend you check out the following articles.
If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on Facebook marketing.
- 14 Ways To Leverage Facebook As A Small Business
- Getting Started With Facebook Marketing
- Facebook Targeting: How to Find Your Audience
- Most Effective B2B Facebook Marketing Strategies
- How To Build A Facebook Audience With The Free Invite To Like Feature
- Reduce Time Spent On Customer Service With Facebook Messenger Chat Bots
- 6 Top Facebook Marketing Trends To Leverage
Tags: Social Media Marketing