Is Social Media a Waste of Time?

Is social media worth the effort for your business? Is there a pay off for the amount of time and effort you spend promoting your business on these platforms? Do you feel that your efforts should be put into other marketing channels rather than social media?

All these are really common questions that business owners face. Do they put their resources into a social media marketing campaign or do they look at other marketing options? For most business owners, they all have 2 things in common. That’s is, limited time and limited knowledge of the social media environment. It is these 2 factors that necessitate that they either outsource this function or have a go at it themselves. The latter being very dangerous.

So following are my thoughts on social media marketing for business; the pro’s and cons. But firstly let me explain what social media is and how it applies to the business world.

Social media is a recent fad, and has literally exploded onto the horizon of most business owners in the last 5 years. Platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ being the most common social media spaces that people promote themselves or their business on. Like every fad, everyone is on there and trying their hardest to outperform each other.

Most business have a Facebook page and are either actively posting images and content or have done nothing on it for years. In reality it’s there because they feel they need to have it. This applies to most businesses in this space – they feel that they have to be there because their competition is, so on and so forth. It’s viral. But are businesses being smart with their resources and using them wisely. In some cases yes, but the majority, unfortunately no.

So what are the pro’s of running a social media campaign for your business.

> Social media is free. For most business owners when they hear the word free they get excited and want to jump all over it. But free as in it’s free to join. Everything else is going to cost you.

> The reach is absolutely mind-boggling. It’s really frightening how far and quick a post or tweet can travel. For some people this is ideal, others it’s pointless. But the point here is that having a million people following what you say or post is not uncommon. This is obviously for the celebrities and mega companies but for the small business owner, getting a coupe of thousand people knowing what your business is up to is very common.

> It’s very quick. I mean it’s real time. If you have got new product or have something to say, social media will get your message out there very quickly.

> There are so many platforms and options for you to choose from. If you find 1 platform is not working effectively for you, you can try another. It’s very simple and easy to make the switch and focus your efforts somewhere else.

> It’s a great way to interact with your market. Most social media sites allow comments and feedback and this is the perfect environment where you can really engage with your clients, from far and wide. You never know where they will come from and what they are going to say. But, at least you are  communicating with them.

> If you have got great images then social media is an ideal place to post them. Most social media sites rely on images to communicate (Instagram as an example) so if you are in a business that is picture friendly, then social media will be a good marketing tool.

The cons of investing your time, energy and effort into social media.

> The biggest problem I find is that it’s just too popular. Every business is on there and it’s like a jungle. It’s far too busy and way too cluttered. Getting your business above the ‘online noise’ is the issue here. Posts. Tweets, blogs all get buried deep within these sites the moment they are posted. You can post a picture on Instagram and within 1 minute it can be lost. Social medias popularity will unfortunately be it’s downfall. The trick here is to make your post so compelling, so newsworthy, so shareable that it makes a noise and stands out amongst all other posts and tweets. Facebook has gotten around this by allowing you to ‘boost your post’ but this does come at a cost. Also, if everyone is boosting their posts how will yours stand out.

> You have to be at it the whole time. You must be invested in being very active in your social media and this takes time and resources. The way around this is to pay a company to do this for you but you need to see a return on your investment. This is why you should test the market with an agency and see if there are any positive results. By this I mean, has it improved sales, inquiries or revenue?

> If you are going to be posting things online on these social sites, you will have to expect that all comments are not going to be positive. With the good comes the bad, so you are going to have to allocate some time dealing with negative comments. Known as online reputation management some residual comments can be quite damaging if left unanswered. Remember, this is the online space and anyone can say or do anything of a malicious nature just because they can. This can and in many cases does happen, so be prepared.

> How do you know which platform is right for your business? What’s going to work and what will be a complete waste of time. For a lot of people they will have this under control. They know their audience and they know where to engage with them. There are however, the majority of businesses who have absolutely no idea which platform they should targeting and have probably been in the wrong space all the time. This is a big issue and could have cost them valuable time.

> You have to have some type of strategy. Without this it’s a pointless exercise. This has to be backed up by key milestones where you can measure your ROI. Again, this is al time consuming and needs to be handled by a agency. Taking the approach that any post is a good post is naïve and simply will not be enough to make it worth your while.

Social media is not for business. It’s really only going to produce results if you as a business owner are prepared to invest the energy necessary to get a return. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to do this.

It’s an unbelievably powerful tool and too make it work for you, one has to be better than the rest – like everything in business for it to succeed you have to be prepared to put in the effort.