“Free Advertising.” For small business owners, those words are as beautiful as chocolate pie to a fat kid. Everybody needs advertising and everybody loves free. This may explain why there have been over 60 million business pages set up on Facebook by people gunning to be the next Jeff Bezos.
If you are a small business owner, you are probably one of those people. I know the drill: one minute you’re sitting at your computer plodding through ham salad recipes, and then 6 hours later you’re launching a page for “Dan’s Ham Salad Emporium” on Facebook. It’s beautiful (should be after 6 hours, right?). You’ve got the address, store hours, links to your site, reviews...everything. You grab a sandwich (ham salad, of course) and eagerly await social engagement from billions of adoring fans, customers and ham salad aficionados. When it doesn’t happen by Saturday morning (and trust me, it won’t), you send requests to your friends bribing them (with leftover ham salad) to “like” your page. You add Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other social media platform your 12-year-old claims is relevant. #hamsaladforlife
You’ll spend the next week updating statuses every. single. day. You’ll post menus, pictures, testimonials and more links to your online storefront. After you’ve stretched your social media tentacles as far as they can possibly reach, you’ll refresh your browser to find your hard work has racked up a total of 31 followers and garnered a measly 12 “likes” smattered over a dozen posts. By all indications, you failed...but did you really?
No. Your only failure was not noticing that 7 of those friends skipped “liking” your status, and instead clicked a link to your site and purchased $1,000 worth of “Ham Salad Made Easy” cookbooks. Apparently you were too busy sticking pins in a Mark Zuckerberg voodoo doll and mumbling “only 12 likes?” over and over.
We are conditioned to believe that “more is better.” More likes, more comments, more ads…the “bigger is better” philosophy is often exacerbated by the wide-angle lens we use to monitor our marketing tactics. Rather than focusing on depth and the singularity of individual customers who WANT to engage with us (on social media or any other channel), we get bogged down reaching for mass marketing appeal. Businesses spend precious time, money, and resources to gain “followers,” ignoring something much more important...customers. To put things simply, would you rather have 50 people “like” a Facebook status update, or one person click your link, go to your site, and buy all of your ham salad? Thought so.
Unfortunately, most small business owners are oblivious to the tools within social media that can drill down to specific customer data and better help their marketing efforts. Whether it’s a $5 billion a year big-box store or a $100-a-week side-hustle, the available analytics within each platform can help any business remain hyper-focused on their core customer. However, analyzing that data can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Who’s liking? Who’s commenting? Who’s clicking? Most importantly, who’s converting? These engagements are the heart and soul of your marketing efforts. Working with a team that understands the logic, data, and analytics behind the “free advertising” of social media can be the catalyst that ultimately sets your business apart from the competition...because that ham salad isn’t going to sell itself.