That social media is an effective tool to engage your customers in conversation and attract new customers is an accepted fact. Leading B2C organizations started flocking to the social media networks as soon as the user base ballooned to billions and conversation spanning generations and national borders became apparent.
Small businesses were comparatively late entrants to this online party. This could be partly because of lack of resources – the owners had to not only invest time to understand and learn this new animal, but also devise a strategy to tame the social media beast.
DIY is the way to go for most small businesses. But it is not always the answer!
Juggling a shortage of resources and manpower, the typical small business owner is trying to do everything himself.
After all, anyone can use Facebook or Twitter. And they are free! This is perhaps the worst misconception out there. Building a brand or a business is hard work. And it takes time, money, sweat and grime.
We take a look at some of the most common myths associated with using social media networks for business.
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Myth 1: It’s Inexpensive
Any successful businessman will tell you ‘Time is Money’. First, Creating accounts on different networks and populating your profile may be free, but you still need to put in time to do that. Second, social media is not static. It is not like creating a website for your business and going back to it only when there is something important that you need to change – like product information or contact numbers.
Social media is like a flowing river, and your customers see everything only when they are sitting on the river shores. To ensure that your customers see your message in networks like Twitter you need to invest in automated tools or visit every hour at the least. So, no, it is not inexpensive. These are some of the costs involved -
- Cost of your time
- Cost of Tools
- Cost of missing out on professional advice
- Cost of time spent doing something more productive (opportunity cost)
It can be inexpensive if you get your existing staff to work with social media accounts, or hire a consultant who can design a solution specific to your needs.
Myth 2: It’s easy to use
Posting a comment or a wall post may be easy, but if you want to exploit the social media networks to make new connections and generate leads, you need to be aware and learn advanced tools. But the problem is, this is not a one time job. The social media networks are constantly evolving. For example, Facebook has changed its Reach and EdgeRank algorithm many a time in the past few months. And these are just the features you need to use social media channels for your business.
Well, there is nothing that you can’t learn if you give it time, but do you have that much time? Ties in with my first point that it is not inexpensive. But you can have a dedicated resource whose job is to know what’s happening in the social media world and keep learning new things.
Myth 3: It doesn’t take a lot of time
Really! I don’t think so. To begin with you have to invest a lot of time in initial analysis to choose the right networks for your business and products. It also takes considerable time to create profiles that can engage new customers. These are the one-time activities. The recurring tasks, the true time gobbler, is the constant analysis of what you’re gaining, re-evaluating your strategy, and maintaining your accounts. Let’s say you have accounts on at least the three major networks – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – then, depending on your engagement rate (followers and conversation, new posts) you may need to spend around 10 hrs a week on these. That is roughly 25% on your work-week! No less.
We understand that hiring someone full-time to get only 25% of the effort, or 50% at the most, is a great burden for a small business. Getting a consultant to do this job can get you 100% of your money in terms of the effort the resource puts in, and you also get a premium service from people who know what they are doing and are always on top of things.
What is the Solution?
It is easy to post photos on Facebook, or just write on your friends’ wall. Or tweet about where you had dinner. When generating business and building a brand is your objective, you add a whole new dimension to the process.
Creating a social media presence for your business is a specialized skill. It needs careful analysis, strategy and execution. Delegation can be the answer in this case. You can either hire a social media strategist or engage a consultant. Social Media consultants generally offer various levels of service. Most are ready to create a custom package for your needs. Getting a quote from someone should be easy enough!
Have you tried to build your business via social media yourself? How did it work out for you. Did you spend a lot of time. Did you enjoy learning the nitty gritties of all the different networks out there?
We want to know what you think. Please leave a comment below and tweet or share this with your friends. You can also check out our various services for any packages that may suit you.