Small business owners face many challenges when it comes to running and growing their business. One of the biggest hurdles that small business owners face is in finding ways to integrate social media into their marketing efforts that will provide return on investment or ROI. Over the last couple years, social media marketing has been listed as an important tactic that small business owners recognize they need to use in reaching their target market, but the biggest drawback is how to do it effectively so they see results from their efforts. While social media ROI needs to be a part of the plan, small business owners still struggle with using this tool effectively to grow their business. If you are a small business owner interested in improving your ROI, implement the following six tips to impact your bottom line.
- Get educated. The most important thing any business owner can do is to understand what social media can and cannot do; understand the different platforms; and how to implement best practices for ROI. The Small Business Development Center offers social media workshops for just this purpose. By understanding what skills are necessary to include social media into your marketing efforts, business owners will also be able to assess who is best suited to do the job. Is this something you can do yourself, delegate to a staff member, or outsource?
- Have a web site. It used to be you needed to be listed in the Yellow Pages. Now, your business does not exist if it does not have a web presence with its own domain on the Internet. Your web site is critical to helping your target market find you so they can do business with you. In addition, while social media be used to engage and interact with your target market, you don’t own the social media platforms. They are owned by someone else and can change or go away. (Just how many times has Facebook changed in the last year?) Your web site is your “real estate” on the Internet that you own and control. It is a must for all business owners. Your social media will direct your audience to your web site for more information about your business and to buy from you. The Small Business Development Center offers web site management workshops for business owners.
- Get found in Google search. When someone in your target market is looking to purchase your product or service, one of the first places they will turn to is Google to do a search. Do you know how your business name shows up when you do a Google search? The starting point is to put your business name (not keywords) into the Google search bar and find out how your business is showing up. Your goal is to “own” the first page of search by having your web site, your social media sites and other related content that you control about your business show up on the first page. Google’s last update to its algorithm puts more emphasis on social media and content creation. You will see ROI of your social media efforts when your social media dominates the first page of search results for your business name.
- Start small. Many times small business owners think they have to be on all the social media platforms immediately or someone told them that this was necessary. Business owners need to be aware of two things: 1) There are only so many hours in a day, and 2) Your target market may not be on every social media platform. With limited time and resources, business owners need to create a presence and be active on the social media sites where they will find and be able to interact with their customers and prospects. For example, if you have a young audience, Instagram may be right for you, but if your customer base is largely female (and you can make your product visual with images), then Pinterest is the place to build your platform. Start with one or two platforms where you can connect with your market, and only expand once you’ve mastered these.
- Create a plan. One of the biggest challenges to successfully using social media for your business is in knowing what to post, when to post it, and to find a way to track your efforts to see if you are meeting your goals. By creating a social media editorial calendar, you can plan your social media activity in advance while being strategic in your content development. For more information on how to create a social media editorial calendar, read this blog post. In order to improve your social media ROI, you need to know what your goals are for using social media and what you will track and measure to see if you are reaching your goals. Examples of trackable goals that will give you ROI include 1) adding x number of names to your mailing list by running a promotion on Facebook or 2) sharing a blog post on all your social media sites and measuring the page views on Google analytics. Both these examples are quantifiable in their results, so you will know if your efforts showed results.
Small business owners need to understand that social media is not a sales tool but a way to amplify your message so you can drive your market to your web site or place of business. Your return on investment is measured in how successful you are in doing this, with the sale coming once they landed on your real estate.
About the author Lisa Kanda, owner of Elkay Corporate Advisors, has over twenty years experience with marketing, social media and branding. Lisa is a Social Media Consultant for the Small Business Development Center at Brookdale Community College (SBDC), assisting clients with different platforms of social media while guiding them on how to boost their brand. Lisa also teaches social media workshops for the SBDC.
Contact the ASBDC office to schedule an appointment with an expert to help you take your business to the next level.