A large social-media presence is important because it’s one of the last ways to conduct cost-effective marketing. Everything else involves buying eyeballs and ears. Social media enables a small business to earn eyeballs and ears. – Guy Kawasaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad
In January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced major changes coming to Facebook’s News Feed. These changes come as a result of the intense scrutiny that Facebook and other social media sites faced following the 2016 election, as well as consumer feedback on their needs and priorities when utilizing social media. On top of the negative press, Facebook’s poor performance in the second quarter of 2018 has also led to a renewed focus by their development team on improving ad revenue.
The combination of these factors unfortunately create some detrimental effects to small businesses, particular those with a very small marketing budget. Plain and simple, your businesses’ organic and paid reach simply isn’t what it used to be.
So what is a small business to do?
Relying on your best assets
While the headlines about social media may make you want to bury your head under ground by giving up on it, social media continues to play an important role in consumer decision making. 74% of consumers make buying decisions based on what they see on social media. That is a staggering number of people who are relying on their social networks to make recommendations on their purchased goods or services.
So what are your best assets?
Existing, happy consumers.
The very basic function of social media, and the purpose for which is was originally intended, was to keep us connected to loved ones near and far. A friend from high school that went to college out on the west coast can see pictures of you enjoying New York City in the fall. A military brat who moved to 16 schools in 12 years can reconnect with all the friends they made along the way. Your local book club can recommend books to each other even when they are not together in person.
Forbes Magazine recently found that 80% of consumers are likely to make buying decisions based on a friend’s suggestions. Over and over again, science shows us that people trust people they know, not random strangers. We are biologically wired for survival by trusting what we know!
Small businesses can and should harness the power of social media’s original intent by tapping into their own networks. Start out by having your best consumers become your best advocate. Reach out to 5 or 6 of your best clients to ask them questions: What do they like about your product/business? What do they feel makes you unique? What makes them keep coming back for your product/service?
Once you understand that, you should also ask them to “refer a friend.” Many small companies can provide a small discount or benefit for referrals without hurting the bottom line with the long term goal of creating happy new customers. In the mean time, your existing advocates feel that they have done something to support the brand they enjoy without having to make a transaction. It feels good for your loyal advocates to “give back”!
Getting the most for your advertising dollars
Running Facebook ads can be one of the most inefficient uses of your marketing dollar if it is done poorly. Marketers need to remember four important aspects of effective marketing:
Content starts with ensuring that you have the very best language that you can use to draw people to learning more about your product or service. That’s where a “wordsmith” like myself comes in – for a very small investment, you can have someone who is serious about words craft something elegant and appealing.
When it comes to audience, many small businesses assume that “more is better,” but in fact, the opposite is true. Facebook reigns as the king of targeted marketing so that you as a business do not have to send your message out to the unknown masses. You can specify geography, interests, even demographic information.
The purpose of your Facebook ad also determines audience. Are you trying to raise awareness of your brand? Increase visits to your website? Attract purchases of a particular product? Get feedback on a service? Execution of a successful ad requires this understanding of what it is that you are trying to have your audience do.
Finally, advertisements cannot be the only posts that you make on your businesses’ Facebook page – that’s a great way to lose even your staunchest customers. As I’ve talked about in other posts, create quality content that is not always sale-focused, and your customers will come back for more.
Set Reasonable Goals
The other challenge that must be combated when it comes to the use of Facebook advertising is “growth for the sake of growth.” Like with understanding your audience, more is not always better when it comes to your Facebook page’s following. A business that needs to sell 1,000 widgets in order to turn a profit will likely not have a goal to sell 10,000 widgets based on speculative, unproven advertising. That math simply does not make sense!
If you are a business that provides a service (like insurance, financial planning, banking), your goals for social media following should be tiered to how many clients you can adequately serve without dropping the ball on aspects that are important to your clients. If you are a playhouse selling tickets to the latest Broadway show, then you are probably correct that more is better so that those who have seen your shows can buy more tickets and recommend those shows to their own friends and followers!
Laney’s Two Cents
Begin with the end in mind by setting a reasonable goal for what you want to accomplish, how large an audience you need to reach, and what outcome you are looking to accomplish.
Facebook advertising can seem overwhelming, but the best feature is that you can try it out in baby steps. Boost a few posts to your audience and their friends for $5. Run a couple A/B test ads for $10 each. You do not have to break the bank to get useful marketing data to better reach your audience.