The launch of social media platforms began a golden age of small business. It ushered in a unique environment where business owners suddenly had free, direct, 24/7 access to their client base. They could advertise, craft a brand personality, and engage with clients – triggering a gold rush of start-ups, online businesses, and boutique services.
But as business flooded the social media spaces, the competition began to push up the standards. High competition on Facebook, drives changes to the algorithms that limit only the most performant content. Suddenly a logo wasn’t enough to make your brand recognizable online. Mom & pop shops found themselves needing professional photoshoots, and companies with less than 5 staff began brainstorming and investing in complex video content strategies.
As the need to compete has grown (along with the number of platforms!) the time commitment, expense, and skill set required to stand out online have also grown.
Now almost all business owners report that their social media management is a mandatory burden and a significant contributor to climbing marketing costs.
This new environment has created a quicksand-like effect for small businesses, tempted into the marketplace with the assumption of easy online sales, only to find themselves running to constantly improve their photography, video or website appearance.
We anticipate that social media will continue to gain in complexity. The addition of Tik Tok, Instagram reels, and Shopify links mean that within the next 18 months, social media management and online marketing will become a barrier to entry for most small business owners, restricting the percentage of companies that make it from ideation to stable long term operation.
There are a few things that you can do, to keep your business in the game.
- Address The Naysayers – We still see a shocking number of businesses that are managed or influenced by leadership who think they don’t need social media, or that it won’t benefit them. It’s time for straight talk with these people. Your company MUST engage before it is too late.
- Establish your core following now – Costs will do nothing but climb as additional platforms are added and new algorithm changes are implemented. Most LARGE Facebook followings are the result of work done 3 years ago. This means it is going to be easier for existing companies to DEFEND their place in the market than it will be for new company’s to come in. You do not want to be the new kid on the block on Facebook in 18 months. So make this investment of time and startegy now.
- Create sustainable workflows – Successful social media is always tied to a business that has made content creation part of its business structure. This means there is a person in your organization who is responsible for taking photos, capturing video, and monitoring posting. It means there is a corporate culture that supports these people’s work. Ensure that messaging is flowing cleanly from leadership or your marketing department to social – so that it’s consistent, powerful, and backing up corporate initiatives. You will need experience optimizing your social before this can run smoothly.
- Budget – The years of social media being “free” are gone. Reasonable budget allocations for almost any business should now include photos/photoshoots, video, slideshares, online ad spend, and staffing to manage your social media. If this is not a segment of your corporate/marketing budget, you are not prepared to execute strategically on your social media.
Finally, don’t think that you can just “outsource this problem”. Even if you hire an agency to help with social, you will still need to steer the campaigns, approve content, and provide engaging content. An agency can help for sure, but effective social media is a partnership, not a transaction.
Social media can be fun – for sure. But its also a tactic for competitive wins in business. It’s not frills or a luxury anymore.
Put your business in a defensible position, and hold onto your place in the market so that you can’t be unseated by Instagram Upstarts, Tik Tokers, or LinkedIn Lions. If you need assistance, know that agencies like ours can help you whether you choose to outsource, or train someone internally or hire.