Three Hard Truths About Social Media Marketing

Why Use Social Media for Business?

I am always being asked: “Does my business need to post on social media?” Business owners want to know what they stand to gain from utilizing social platforms. To be frank, and I know this isn’t what you want to hear, the answer is different for everyone. Don’t leave me yet though, I’m going to give you some real examples.

Q: Why use social media? A: Because people use social media.

Why Use Social Media for Business? - 88% of Americans 18-29 use social media

Social media isn’t going anywhere. People look to your social profiles to learn about the culture of your company. Being present in these channels, you’re proving your existence as a thriving organization. By not participating in social media, you’re ignoring the way that conversations are happening online, and ignoring an important shift in our culture’s communication.

Social media has been around for over two decades, and nearly everyone has been on it for the last decade. You may have been able to claim ignorance a few years ago, but as social media emerges as a marketing tool, you’re running out of excuses to not get involved. I don’t mean to be discouraging when I say this, but hopefully my message is clear — it’s time to get online.

Social media is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s quickly becoming a mandatory marathon nearly every business will need to run at some point in its life. There is no magic marathon training pill. You have to walk before you run, so while you may be able to get away with ignoring social media now, five years from now you might need it more than ever. If you wait until then to start you won’t have the experience or network to pull from when you really need it. Don’t spend the next five years doing nothing but sitting on the couch eating cheetos when you need to be out there walking. At the very least eat your cheetos while you walk.

Truth #1: Social media should be part of every marketing campaign.

I’m going to be bold here and make a statement you may not like: I think social media has a place in almost every marketing campaign…

However, the activities you use social media for and the way that you leverage it in your marketing campaign differs based on your goals. That’s why before I ever venture into taking on a social media client the first question I ask is, “Why do you want to use social media for your business? What on earth are they going to get out of it?”

Social media can be used for all kinds of things. Let’s face it, every business professional is limited by two important resources: time and energy. What we don’t want to use social media for is wasting these resources. Don’t waste your time — start with a goal and specific outcomes in mind. Then be ready to monitor your results because it changes all the time: what works this month on Facebook may not work next month. Without monitoring you won’t know if your reaching your goals and throw money away because of it.  

Truth #2: Not every business is meant to generate a multi-million social media following.

For some businesses, it just doesn’t make sense to invest their energy in that way. That doesn’t however, mean they should neglect posting on social media altogether. Or that they shouldn’t be using social media to reach out and connect with their target audience. As time passes, all the social networks favor individual connections over business to person connections. So as a business, you start out at a disadvantage in terms of generating a following for your content. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done! It just means it’s not quite as easy as it is for you to find all your college buddies online.

The good news? Not every online marketing campaign needs center around amassing a huge following. It sure sounds nice, but it’s not always the best investment of time or money. (Bonus: You also don’t have make hundreds of posts on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.) Remember — it’s not so much about the number of followers, but rather the quality of the connections you make online.

Regardless of where you set your goals, you do need to do some posting. At a minimum, consider one post a week to show people that you’re alive, and you care and you’re cool. Above and beyond your basic posts is where the magic can happen. Because social media isn’t just about posting, it’s about connecting in the best way possible with your audience.

Remember: Just because you need to be on social media that doesn’t mean you have to do it the way everyone else is doing it. How you do social media is all based on who you want to reach and where they’re at in life. I promised I’d give real examples so here’s a great one.

Example #1: Property Management Groups

Challenge: We manage online marketing for multiple property management groups. They are always looking for renters. Their renters are often found on social media. Here’s the thing though, we live in a college town and the majority of their tenants are only here renting for 3 years. Why should they go through the effort EVERY YEAR to gain a social media following when their demographic is continually turning over? It seems like a waste of time, right?  RIGHT!

Solution: We start by we posting a few times a month so people don’t think they’re dead and run ads to gain exposure on social media. They would have paid me the same amount to write posts and publish them as they spend running ads. The difference? Their ads are shown to thousands of people in the correct demographic who are IN Columbia, MO right now, while their posts only show to a few hundred. As an added benefit, they will gain monthly page likes in response to the ads they run.

Again, structure your social media strategy around your goals. Are you trying to sell things? Educate people? Generate donations? Build awareness? All of those goals have different strategies behind them in social media.

Example #2: Construction Companies

Challenge: You’d think, gosh, they don’t need to do social media, they lay asphalt or build bridges or gigantic buildings. There’s no reason for them to do social media, they’re B2B.  People aren’t buying gigantic buildings though Facebook networking. And you’re right. People aren’t buying buildings or paving roads on Facebook. They don’t need any more roads to pave, they need skilled individuals to help pave them. Those people are looking for jobs on LinkedIn, and they’re are on Facebook talking to their friends about their last awesome hunting trip.  

Solution: Our construction clients fill their Facebook pages with posts about how cool their people are, their stellar company culture and the last service project they did. They share the intricate projects they just completed with cool drone footage. Why? Because that’s what new hires need to see to want to work for them. When it’s time to hire they can place an ad to the right demographic with the proper training and skills on LinkedIn or Facebook et voila: Applicants.

Example #3: Utilities Providers

Challenge: Unfortunately in this age of social media it seems utility customers have lost their gratitude for the privileges they expect from their providers. Often, customers only engage online during the roughest moments, griping loudly under the protection of anonymity. Why would a utility provider even bother with social media if it’s just an outlet for customer complaints?

Solution: Turn those problems into solutions. Outages are going to happen, so why not make the most of them, right? Utility providers can post reports of outages (problem) on social media. By doing so it lowers their call volumes (bonus) and online complaints considerably. As a result, outages are the times when they gained the most followers (solutions) on their social media pages.

They also use social media to keep their customers aware of the work they’re doing and why they’re doing it. For example, if they are repairing utility lines next to a major highway and it’s going to cause a lane closure they let people know by posting a map, tell them the anticipated length of time to expect delays and explain why they’re doing it.

This allows informed individuals who use the roadway to avoid the area, alleviating congestion and making a safer working environment. Utility clients noted that properly notified patrons don’t feel as inconvenienced by the work. They also feel it helps the public to better understand where their tax dollars or utilities fees are going.   

Utilities providers use social media to show the human side of their business, to remind drivers that they’re passing PEOPLE at 85 mph — people repairing their roads.

Truth #3: Social media is used to solve problems.

Your business exists to help solve other people’s problems. You solve a need or a want. Let your social media help you. Ask yourself: What kind of problems do you need to solve? Then make that answer part of your social media strategy.

Disclaimer: Don’t make social media just a pile of shameless self promotion.

Shameless self promotion can feel really gross. Mom always said, “don’t brag.” Social media started out as total oversharing. That’s why it can be such a turn off. But now social media is all about putting the right face forward.

If you run around telling everyone “I am a superstar” they’ll roll their eyes and walk away. Is that the response you want? No? No, instead try sharing. I’m touting the humble brag here. The “I’m over here with my head down working hard and something good happened to me” kind of brag.

Did you know that by sharing your good work with others you are actually elevating your own energy and that of others? Naturally, your mind latches on to the negative and dwells on it, this is called negativity bias. According to research from Brigham Young University cited by Stanford Medicine, positive experiences leads to heightened well-being, increased overall life satisfaction and more energy. By avoiding the humble brag you miss out on spreading all that goodness.

Still not convinced?

Here are four more reasons your business should use social media.

Heck, the Knot says 19% of brides found their spouse online in 2017. If lords and ladies are looking for love online (have you heard of Tinder — they definitely are) they’re probably looking for what you’ve got to offer too.

More concrete reasons people tell me they want to use social media are:

  • Keep up with the Joneses
  • Drive traffic back to your website
  • Improve your Google rankings (3.5% of the pie)
  • Build credibility, and collect reviews (FYI review metrics are shared with your Google My Business listing in Google search results)

Three hard truths and four concrete reasons! If for *some* reason you’re still not convinced, and you need even more reasons why people use social media for business or maybe you’re still not sure if you need social media we’ve done a few videos pitching why to use social media for business in the construction industry and also for non-profits. The two videos share some tactics for why you might use social media for business and do a good job of giving specific examples for each industry.

More about the Author

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Monica Pitts

Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.

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