As a brand communications consultant when I meet business owners, I usually come across two kinds of people. The first kind are those who are internet savvy and social media enthusiasts. They know a lot about Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin already. I like to listen to them because I find it worthwhile to learn from them something I don’t know than to tell them something they already know. These modern businessmen just need tactical support in handling their digital marketing. The second kind are those who are social media newbies. They are usually comfortable with emails and are generally aware of the internet but they admit of having no skills in online interactions. Traditional businessmen are good in their business but sometimes they are a bit phobic about taking their business online and I understand the reasons for their hesitation. Here are some things that keep small and medium businesses from really taking charge of their online engagement:
- Integration – Digital marketing is an augmented discipline that has elements of both online and offline marketing. If your business does not tap the potential of the activities in the real world, then all the Social Media Engagement, Blogging, Search Engine Optimization and Cost-Per-Click Advertising will simply keep on piling up your expenses without real results. Social media marketing is not social selling but it is true that the modern revolution in social selling has arrived due to the omnipresence of social media. Today, it is hard to do without social media in marketing communication. Businesses find it quite challenging to integrate online engagement in their marketing.
- Social Media Skepticism – Before 2005, no one thought about social media marketing. It was only in 2010s that social media got its footing in the overall marketing and advertising arena. It is understandable that not everyone can jump onto the wagon so easily. There are still many unanswered questions about the effectiveness and extent of social media in marketing. Honestly, social media is just another medium of communication like the TV and the Radio but the highly personal, interactive and gamified nature of social media makes it utterly different from the traditional media channels. It is not unusual that traditional businesses who are so well used to paying their local newspaper for advertising feel skeptical about social media. However, the fact is that Social Media works and you need to know how to drive your presence on it. Trust me, using social media is easy and it allows you to engage your customer at a very deeper level that was never possible with Radio or TV.
- Public Disclosure – For many reasons, businesses avoid being too public in their day to day dealings with customers. Part of it is due to the lack of confidence in their own products and services. The fact that a social presence exposes a business to public scrutiny is scary for a new business. It is easy to buy reviews and testimonies on TV and newspaper and hardly anyone questions the sources but on social media people are the authority and you are answerable directly to them. Bad customer reviews can spread like wildfire and you need to know how to fight that fire with patience and composure.
- Transparency – Even if you are a chef, you don’t have to tell the world about whole recipe or ingredients in your dish. You just need to show your customers that you are hygienic and ethical in your service while serving really tasty food. This goes for any business engaging its customers online. Just be clear about your policies and service quality and let your customers know that you care for them. You should develop a habit to clearly define your every brand move and express how it adds value to your customers.
- Trend Spotting – It is probably the result of our fast lifestyles that businesses have to stay one step ahead to capitalize on the next evolving trend. Trends are typically short-lived in today’s economy and digital interactions are the best way to spot them. This could be counter intuitive for someone looking to find stability in their business. New businesses especially find the pressure too much to bear while big businesses find themselves not agile enough to adapt so quickly.
- Innovation and Virality – Hashtags are probably the crowning achievement of social networking. The way people use hashtags to start a discussion is something amazing to observe. Building the right momentum with your social presence and using social interactions to create a conversation around your brand is an art. Just the way your business needs to stay ahead of trends, you have to innovate your marketing communication constantly so that customers can engage with your brand. A major concern for businesses as they have misconceptions about virality and try to hit the one time jackpot with viral content. However, the truth is that with modern social media algorithms, going viral has become increasingly cost and effort intensive.
- Role of content – Now when we talk about virality, it is worth mentioning that it is the content that goes viral. Without content, there is no marketing today. From sales pitches to your high concept advertising, everything relates to the art of content marketing. Brand content is a specialized field and businesses find it difficult to source talent for creating this in-house. Many business owners have a patchy concept of content and this is something that needs proper guidance. In-ability to create good content becomes a major roadblock in starting social media marketing. Generating content is a matter of business activity so that people start talking about it. Planning such activities need brainstorming and quick execution to capitalize on the trends. Marketing managers often find their hands tied for taking such decisions and many good opportunities are lost.
- Lack of Time – Being a business owner is tough deal compared to being in a job. Entrepreneurs who are starting up new businesses may feel this all the more. Although the passion may be enough to drive the business, managing your own social media marketing may not be your area of interest. Taking out time regularly for managing social media channels for engaging, listening and entertaining the customers could be a little too demanding. It is thus necessary that a business owner gets some good inspiration and time management tips for taking online engagement seriously.
- Resources – Many businesses initially try to get by on social media by hiring a teenager or a part time social media guy. Often that backfires as the younger generation may not be fully aware of your business image and may even create controversies on your behalf with unwarranted posts on social media. Finding the right resources have always been tough in social media since it really needs wider awareness and multitasking. More you try to outsource it, more riskier you make it for your brand. Ultimately, you will have to take the reins of your digital media and social media marketing. Abandoning it is not an option.
- Afraid of Competitors – On social media your competitors have full freedom to post or tweet just about anything. They may hire trolls and blogger to attack your product and services. They can even flood your Yelp account with poor ratings or reviews. I admit that it is possible to sabotage your brand online but if you take care of the genuine buyers who use your service or product then their review and rating can beat your competitor’s false posts. Just follow your honest path, give your customer’s experience the top priority and you will surly win this social game. The best way to win a situation when you make a mistake is to admit it upfront. Yes! Though it seems little awkward but admitting your mistakes can really help you in earning online reputation. Be quick in dealing with the problems of your customers rather than ignoring them.
There are many more such reasons for businesses to take digital media and social media marketing with a pinch of salt. It is always my pleasure to enable the businesses to find a solution for their own online marketing needs. Content, social presence, engagement, and everything that form the overall digital strategy need a little bit of study. If you are a business owner or entrepreneur looking for ideas on how to get past the various states of online marketing then you will find my book “Social Giraffe To Social Seller” very useful. Do try it out on Kindle and do not forget to rate and review this article.