How can local businesses get results from social media? What time investment is needed for those results to start flowing? Is it realistic for businesses to accomplish this themselves? Are they missing a trick by focusing so heavily on LinkedIn? And what does success look like?
Social Selling for SMEs
In preparing slides for a webinar I'm running to help small business owners, I've had cause to review all of the above. I thought it 'd be helpful to share some headlines with you in the event that you're unable to attend the webinar (details of which you'll find on www.social-hire.com):
How can a business get results from social media?
In my mind there are two really distinct ways of effectively selling your company through social media. The first involves using social sites to run highly targeted advertising campaigns, seen just by people who fit your ideal customer demographics. Then there's the second angle, which is attracting customers by having a compelling social media presence and taking advantage of the pool of people who may not have even considered or been exposed to your business. Depending on the type of results you're primarily hoping to see, you'll have to have one or both of these angles covered.
Whichever route you take, to be successful you'll have to turn your social media presence into a sales funnel for your business - the end outcome of which being whatever you want your social media strategy to deliver for the team (sales, website visits, demo requests, calls booked ... or just creating a buzz about your business). There are 4 key steps to achieving this which you can find out about on the webinar.
What time investment is needed for those results to start flowing?
In what timescales should you promise the business that the fruits of your social media presence will be felt? Clearly this is a function of the amount of resource you devote to building your social media presence. But you shouldn't be thinking in terms of this as producing overnight results. Initial business results being seen within 3 months is achievable if you have an expert dealing with this. 6 months if not. Then you're looking at 12-24 months to really build an unassailable lead in your market and be a company that everyone knows and would like to interact with. Running some social media advertising can significantly accelerate results, but will obviously require budget-- the more you can afford, the greater the impact will be.
Is it realistic for businesses to do this themselves?
The answer here is yes and no. Success requires you to have a consistent presence on social media - and to be doing a multitude of things that are all needed to generate success. It also requires you to be expert at running social media paid marketing campaigns if you are going to invest in that side of things. Within a small business, it's inconceivable that team members could do this adequately; they're unlikely to have the necessary expertise and are likely to struggle to devote the time needed to achieve success.
To this day I've never seen this type of social selling strategy be successfully undertaken in-house, unless the company has gone all out and hired a social media marketing manager with explicit responsibility for making this happen. More common is for companies to try and have an admin person or intern take this on-- and then the results simply don't flow owing to a lack of skills and experience on social media.
Are you missing a trick by focusing so heavily on LinkedIn?
Without doubt! Consider for a moment that a significant portion of all LinkedIn users only return to the site once a month. Now consider that many of those same users are logging into Facebook multiple times per week, or are active on Twitter several times a day. If you are entirely focused on researching potential hires or potential customers, then LinkedIn has a lot to offer. But if you're also wanting to build your brand and attract people to your business then it's the other social sites that will give you the frequent touch points and immediacy of interaction necessary to generate results. The under-utilisation of the more personal social media platforms is undoubtedly cutting you off from a huge section of your target market, meaning you're not generating the volume of new customers you 'd be looking for.
What does success look like?
Just as with the question of the timescales necessary for results to be achieved, clearly the results you will see in your business are likely to be a function of the amount of time and resource you invest into your social media presence. But to help you quantify what could be achieved in your business, I do share in these webinars insights into the kinds of results you can expect to achieve - be that visits to your website, purchases of your products or services, or active online conversation about your company ... What's key, though, is that by turning your social media presence into a sales funnel, you get to the point where there's a clear end result being achieved for any given level of investment in social media advertising. And that everything has been transformed into a lead generation or sales process that is scalable and repeatable without being reliant on the Founder or key sales people in the company.