Latest insights

Four myths of social media marketing

Digital Tech Cumbria has had a great response to its webinars and masterclasses on all aspects of digital marketing and it’s also something that’s coming up a lot in discussions as part of our 1-2-1 business support across the county.

Social media is something that business owners either love or hate – there’s rarely much in between. But most recognise that it’s a necessary part of today’s marketing mix, even if you’re selling to other businesses rather than consumers.

Questions range from “Where do I start?” to “How do I find the time?”, from “Which platforms should I do?” to “What should I write about?”. This blog won’t answer everyone’s questions but it might give you the background to help you think through them yourself. Then, if you need support to get going, get in touch.

First myth – social media marketing is free.

There might not be invoices to pay but it’s not free – it takes time to build up a following and it takes time to create content and your time is a cost.

To make your investment worthwhile, you’ll need to focus your efforts on the right channels for your business, find easy ways to save time where you can and make sure that you’re getting the best return on everything that you do – just like “normal” marketing.

Once you’ve decided on your platform or platforms, there are easy ways of saving time. Scheduling tools, either within a format like Facebook or using an app such as Buffer, can help. Creating one central resource file of images, quotes, links and other materials can help on finding things easily when you’re setting up posts. And experimenting with formats, timings and website links will help to create data. Social media analytics tools (usually within the platform) will then show you what’s working best for you so that you can do more of it.

Second myth – using every platform gives you the best return.

That’s like saying that you need to feature in every magazine or every newspaper to reach your potential customers. Or that it’s OK to put the same ad into a local newspaper as you would into a trade magazine.

First, you need to do a bit of research and find out which social media platforms your likely customers are using – then invest your time and effort where those customers are spending their time.

  • Instagram, one of the most visual platforms, is one of the fastest growing but that doesn’t mean that you can disregard Facebook – it just means that Facebook has already grown!

  • Twitter is very immediate and full of opinions but that might work for you as it’s relatively easy to build your community and to find out about other people and businesses too.

  • LinkedIn is positioned as a B2B platform and it is one of the most active for business networking and recruitment BUT you are still interacting with other people and those people are among those with higher disposable incomes so, for many businesses, LinkedIn is a useful channel to your market.

Our recommendation is to sign up for a range, give yourself a week or so for research purposes, look at how people use them, who is there and the interactions that are happening. Then focus your efforts on the one or two where you feel most at home.

Third myth – you have to think of something new to say every day.

This myth is probably the reason why some businesses give up before they even start. It’s daunting enough to press the button and post something for the first time, never mind thinking that you’ve got to come up with something fresh every 24 hours.

However, it is worth planning ahead so that you can post regularly and create momentum.

One approach is to have a topic or theme for each day of the week and then plan posts for the coming month within that structure. The topics don’t have to be all about you – you could have a Saturday supplier theme when you post about someone else’s business or a Wednesday walk with a couple of local photographs (ideal for holiday accommodation or a tourism business) or a Tuesday tweak or test when you ask about something you’re thinking of doing and see what your Followers think.

It’s also important to Share other people’s posts to your Page occasionally so that you build a network, reinforce connections and give your Followers more of a mix. If a friend posts a good quote, Share it. If another local business has great news, Share it with a congratulations comment. If you come across an article that you’ve found useful, Share it. If there are announcements about local grants or award schemes, Share them too.

Fourth myth – it’s all about generating content and having lots to say.

Just like any other form of communication, social media comes into its own when you listen as well as talk. People love interaction and like the idea of getting to know you and your business. That comes from responding to comments and getting into a conversation.

One of the big Cumbrian success stories with this approach is Sally’s Cottages (see them on Facebook and at https://www.sallyscottages.co.uk/). Over 600,000 people Follow or Like (or both) this business and that amazing reach has been grown by interacting, responding to comments and getting into conversations. It’s taken a lot of time and effort but it has worked – and you can scroll through and see for yourself how this business has used social media marketing to sell and to grow. It is unlikely that you’ll need quite that many Followers to make a difference to your business but it’s worth learning from what works.

So what really works?

  • Give yourself a weekly time budget for social media and see how it works in practice. Realistically, start with 4 hours minimum and use scheduling tools and other ways of making the most of the time available. Allocate some of that time to interaction (see below).

  • Focus your efforts on just one or two social media platforms that will reach the right people for your business and see how those work out. Don’t spread yourself too thinly, keep an eye on the analytics and watch what other people are doing to make the most of the opportunities.

  • Put as much time into attracting Followers and building your network as you do into creating content – that’s what will make the investment in content worthwhile. It’s a waste if no one is going to see it. Follow other accounts and comment on their posts. Invite Friends to Like or Follow you. Use hashtags on Instagram so that people find you that way too.

  • Respond to those who comment on your posts – ask them questions, offer them links, encourage them to get in touch with you directly or just reinforce their comments. Build that online relationship with your potential customers.

There’s a lot more that we could include here – we haven’t talked about images and video and we’ve not touched on paid boosting or advertising. But make a start and see where it takes you – and don’t forget that there’s advice available from our webinars and masterclasses (some of them on video as well as live) or from our advisers if you get involved in our 1-2-1 support.

Find out more at https://dtc.winningmoves.com/