There’s no doubt about it – the use of social media to market small businesses is definitely growing. According to an American Express OPEN survey, the number of small businesses using social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn has grown from about 1 in 10 to 4 in 10 since a year ago, a significant increase.
But, uncertainty remains on the part of some small business owners whether social media is a good way to market to their base of local consumers. In fact, according to one survey, 20% of small business owners surveyed said they disagreed that their customers were spending time on social sites.
This is not the only fear that keeps small business owners quiet online. These common social media fears are keeping many businesses from benefitting from the power of social media marketing.
1. Fear: My customers aren’t using social media sites, so marketing there would not work.
Reality: Although 20% of small business owners have this fear, eMarketer research shows that nearly 60% of U.S. internet users – a total of about 127 million adults – use social networks once a month, and that number will grow to about two-thirds of all Internet users by 2014.
2. Fear: The learning curve is too high. I have to know how to use it before I get started.
Reality: The best way to learn how to use social media for marketing is to begin using it personally first. Test the waters of social media by opening a Facebook profile for yourself, and then, learn by using the site to connect with friends and family. Next, join the pages of your some of your favorite brands and local businesses and look closely at how they are using the platform to connect to consumers. Then, once you’ve got the hang of it, starting a Facebook page for your business is an easy next step.
3. Fear: I don’t know what to say. What if I look silly or stupid?
Reality: Using social media for marketing your small business can seem intimidating at first, but the good news is that what consumers really want to hear from brands is valuable information they need related to their products or services. So to build a great social presence, you just need to talk about what you know best – your business! For example, share tips and tricks about how to get the most out of your products.
4. Fear: If I’m active on social media, it will give people a platform to complain about my business.
Reality: Consumers are already talking about your business online. By choosing to use social media to market your business, you are choosing to participate in that conversation and not let other people control what’s being said about your business online. Plus, if you do receive feedback on your business via social media, it could help you improve your business and create brand advocates by listening and responding to what customers have to say.
5. Fear: Using social media could invade my privacy.
Reality: You get to choose how much information you post about yourself online, and what you share publicly with others. You can keep your personal social media presence separate from your professional network if this is a concern.
6. Fear: I’m afraid my employees will misuse social media on the job.
Reality: Some of the biggest concerns about using social media for business involves how to navigate employee use. But, the fact is that employees can – and do – use social media whether or not your business is marketing itself online. Having a social media policy in place is a good way to ensure that your business is protected from potential issues of employee use and that employees know how to best use the tools. If you want to allow employees to use social media to promote your business, make sure that you provide them with guidelines on how to present themselves – and your business – professionally
online. There are a number of online resources in addition to services you can use to create a social media policy for your small business.
7. Fear: I’m busy running my business and I don’t have enough time to do social media well.
Reality: Many small businesses struggle to balance the need to have an active presence in social media and the existing demands on their time. Luckily, there are many tools and resources you can use to help you manage your social media presence. For businesses interested in maximizing their web presence, outsourcing social media marketing can be a time- and cost-effective solution.
Are any of these fears keeping you away from using social media marketing for your small business? Have any other concerns kept you up at night? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, or share them on our Facebook page.
If you are interested in learning more about how our ReachCast Pro Web Presence Service can partner your small business with an expert Web Presence Professional who will help your leverage social media for your small business, feel free to contact us.