Calculating the Value of Social Media for Small and Medium Businesses (SMB)

Calculating the Value of Social Media for Small and Medium Businesses (SMB)

ROI of Social Media in Small Business

SMB Marketing Scenario:

  1. You’ve got a message you need to distribute to thousands of potential users of your new product
  2. It’s a tech product, an app or a mobile-aware site that needs techie traffic and commerce
  3. You know some heavy Twitter users who might love your product
  4. You’ve done your #hashtag research and you’ve identified the BIG influencers on Twitter

Now what do you do?

That depends on who you consult with.

What Twitter Says: “Buy a Promoted Tweet and we’ll get you in front of millions of engaged and interested users.”

What Facebook Says: “We’re the biggest, the most advanced, we can spend your money faster than any other platform. We get results you can track.”

What an Online Marketing Agency Says: “We can build an awareness program for you. With Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube combined. We do this integrated marketing stuff all the time. Have you had a look at our Twitter stats? And check our blog, for some interesting case studies.”

What an SEO-Marketing Agency Says: “It’s all about the numbers. We can get you in the top listings on Google so you don’t have to pay for ads. We will optimize and optimize and stay on top of Google’s changing processes so you don’t have to.”

What an Influencer Agency Says: “We’ll build a cloud of influencers and encourage them to talk about your product. We can do this on a limited budget, and we have case studies to show how it has worked for our previous customers in [name the type of business  you are trying to win as a client].”

What a Social Media Consultant Says: “Here’s how I’ve seen this process work. I don’t know if it will work in your specific market, but I can get the supporting data, do a little research, and get back to you with a budget and a timeline for your program.”

I’ve worked, and still work, for several of the types of businesses outlined above. And I can tell you, from several years in the business of manufacturing and selling influence, that it’s not a straight TWEETS-TO-ROI proposition. There are tools that can help. There are analytics measurements you can watch. And there are some amazing programs to analyze twitter, facebook, pinterest, and any other social network you want to work with. But the tools won’t get you there.

In fact the agency, strategist, and influencer won’t get you there. It’s not a package deal that I can wrap up in an eBook and sell you. I’d like to get it to such a science, but today, in the blizzard of social media it is hard to know what will work, and harder to come up with unique and innovative ways to engage and capture the imaginations and dollars of your potential customer online.

  1. They are on mobile devices more than you can imagine. (check your stats)
  2. Facebook is still king, but Facebook has limited usefulness if you are trying to drive sales of a product or service.
  3. Search is very important, but what they do after they find your site and land on your page is more important.
  4. Yes, you do have to spend time understanding and managing every single social media network that you want to influence.
  5. Make sure your team, strategist, or agency, has some people who actually PARTICIPATE in the conversation. Writing about Twitter ain’t the same as building a Twitter following, and growing your Twitter influence. (This goes for Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and blogging as well.)
  6. Gluing all the social processes together is CONTENT. If you don’t have good quality stuff to share, you won’t be sharing much except HEY LOOK HERE’S A 10% OFF COUPON. And that’s not going to grow your influence very far, unless you are Dell Factory Outlet or Living Social.

If there were an easy roadmap to influence and fame, I’d probably be trying to sell it to you right now for $5.99 or in weekly installments for $15.99. [Probably I should package something up like that.]

Rather, I’d like to teach you what I’ve learned. Give you the ammo to learn and become an influencer, or online marketer yourself. And if you run a small business, I hope I can provide some entry points to getting social media to work for your business.

I’ve seen programs fail. I’ve seen HUGE community developments [build it and they will come] remain beautiful ghost towns. And I’ve hit a few home runs over the years. And the same truths have held true for all of them.

  1. Work with people who’ve had experience.
  2. Try a lot of ideas.
  3. Test and measure your results.
  4. Kill what’s not working. Exponentially expand what’s working. Dial in the numbers for your ROI tracking and reporting.
  5. Keep adding new ideas and testing them.
  6. Repeat what works until it no longer works.

All the case studies in the world are not going to get you experience building AdWords campaigns, or wrestling with the Power Builder tool in Facebook. But until you do try some things. Until you see what works and what fails. Until you’ve tried to answer a client’s question, “How is Twitter going to help my dry cleaning business?” you’re still getting your feet wet. It’s all theoretical until you’ve tried it.

Even a large-scale campaign, with ten thousand dollars of Google AdWords budget, isn’t going to score a victory unless you can CONVERT that ACTIVITY and TRAFFIC into SALES.

Yes, we’re all tired of hearing about how to make the case for ROI and SOCIAL MEDIA. But guess what, I still have to make that case every day. I’m doing it here. And you will have to do it too. So get out there, try some things, track everything, and share when you find something that works.

There is enough traffic out there for all of us. Sure we’re competing for the same eyeballs and iPhones screens, but I’d bet we’d learn a lot more from each other by sharing than simply gaming each others BID AMOUNT in Google Adwords. Besides, the app/device/service I am interested in promoting is probably not related to yours. If it is, well, we can still share best-practices rather than data.

Most companies are very sacred about their data. That’s okay. I understand. But it’s just data. It’s what we do with that information going forward that counts. Analytics is about what happened in the PAST. We make social media decisions about the FUTURE.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)


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