As a business owner, your focus isn’t always on social media; that’s why you’ve hired someone else to manage the accounts. Although you understand that, in the digital age, it’s crucial to have an online presence, a nagging question remains as to the long-term value of paying a staff member or external marketing company to handle that presence.
It’s a reasonable question. Optimizing and eliminating expenses from the budget is how you have been able to succeed in your business. It is healthy practice to examine the value of the services you are paying for, and when it’s time to “trim some fat” one of the first things many business owners look at is social media marketing.
Here is where I hope to stay your hand. Before reducing budgets or eliminating positions, there are a few things that I would like to share with you on the behalf of your social media manager or management team.
#1 – Social media isn’t free
I will use Facebook as my example. It is true that you can create a business page, post regularly and never be charged a dime. When you start to look at the numbers, however, you may be disappointed. That is because, on average, only 2 to 3% of the people who like your Facebook page will see your posts. You don’t have to be a statistician to see the problem with those numbers. How do you get around those small odds? You need to put money towards it. Your social media manager will know the proper way to allocate a social media advertising budget so that you are achieving a maximum reach while growing your audience.
#2 – It isn’t always easy to measure social media ROI
Businesses operate based on ROI, and the equation for calculating it has always been fairly simple. When the “return” becomes less tangible, it can be a roadblock to many business owners. There are two parts of my response to this.
First, your ROI is going to be more fluid on social media, and it won’t be easily fitted to the traditional ROI calculation. Also, it is seldom finance-focused. Your goals are likely to change more rapidly, and you will have to redefine the value of what social media actions are worth. Many companies struggle with these concepts. This article from buffersocial shares an excellent, succinct description of how to calculate social media ROI depending on your goals.
Second, the value of your social media isn’t always calculable. Instead of only viewing fans and followers as potential customers, is far more prudent for a business to look at their social media as an extension of their customer service department. Some of the most financially successful brands have amazing social media centered customer service. Building a community of loyal brand supporters greatly impacts a business’ prosperity, but it is challenging to determine exact monetary value.
#3 – What used to work won’t always work
Social media is constantly evolving to fit the demands of its users. Some platforms become total flops. Others are only popular in niche markets. Even the big networks that appear to be here to stay are constantly tweaking their algorithms, offering new services, and redesigning their interface. The size and dimensions of optimal post images will change. New advertising requirements will need to be met. Your audience will expect new and better things. Don’t settle for the way things have always been done. Rely on your social media manager or team to be monitoring these changes and strategizing the best way for your brand to be a part of them.
#4 – There are no (legitimate) instant results
Many businesses become frustrated when a new social media platform has low engagement or a small number of followers. Business owners want immediate results from their investments. This can be nerve-wracking for the person in charge of accounts. Some platforms don’t provide any means of extending reach via advertising and must be grown organically. This takes time. Instant results (usually in the form of paid likes and followers) of large numbers might be satisfying, but the likelihood that those people will be of value to your business as customers or brand advocates is slim to none. Instant results are superficial. Real results take time.
#5 – No, your spouse, son, or daughter can’t do the same thing they do
When budgets are on the line, many owners find themselves considering their family members for the job of social media management in order to cut costs. After all, your daughter is on Twitter all day. She knows what she’s doing.
This line of thinking can be a costly mistake.
Use this same process in another area of your life. You could go to a doctor when you need medical care, but your spouse looks up ailments on WebMD all the time. Why pay a physician to set a broken bone when there is a Wikipedia article on how you can do it yourself?
Perhaps choosing your social media management isn’t as dire as selecting a doctor in a medical emergency, but it is still critical to the future of your business. Trusting a professional who has the experience and working knowledge of a subject is a far better option that giving the job to an amateur who may cause more damage than benefit to your brand.
Social media management is no longer an option to businesses, and people are no longer forgiving of brands that do social media poorly. Make the investment and trust your manager or team to lead your company in the right direction. You’re building a community of brand supporters online. Be the one to keep them engaged.