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There’s no doubt that social media is one of the most powerful marketing channels available to the small business owner. 68% of Americans use Facebook, and more than half of them use it several times a day.  Social media is relatively low cost – establishing and maintaining a business page is free, while the costs of advertising is comparable and often lower than what you’ll pay for print, radio, or television ads.

But social media takes time, energy and attention to do well. Small business owners are often bombarded with offers from companies who offer social media management services.  For a new company struggling to establish itself, attract customers, and gain visibility in their community, it’s tempting – but does hiring a social media company make sense for your small business?

Maximizing Your Marketing ROI: The Case for Doing Your Own Social Media

New businesses have to be very careful about cash flow. It’s important to make sure that every dollar you’re spending is worth it. While there are things social media companies are good at – particularly when it comes to creating and implementing marketing campaigns – there’s a very real case to be made that you’d be better off learning how to manage your company’s social media yourself.

Keeping It Local = Smart Strategy for Small Business

Social media services provided by third party providers – and I’d include my own company in this conversation – all share one common failing: they’re not great at sharing the authentic, neighborhood level content that’s essential to be successful on social media. 

When you post about an issue like a water main break that’s blocking customers from getting to your store or the amazing sunset you can see from the park you’re demonstrated your authenticity and connection to the community – two traits that today’s customers find especially compelling. 

Get in the habit of paying attention to local events that will be of interest to your customers, and sharing that type of information with your followers. Current Facebook best practice for small business is to post one or two posts per day. With that in mind, aim for 1-2 local content posts per week unless something very exciting is happening in your area.

Customer Service Means Paying Attention to Social Media

There are a number of ways that customers can ask questions, share comments, and complain via social media. Depending on your settings, they may post on your wall, leave a comment on a post, or message you directly.

If you’re working with a social media management company, they’ll alert you when a customer service message is posted. It’s still your responsibility to answer the question being asked or address the issue being raised – the marketing agency can’t do that for you! Handling this aspect of social media means committing to checking your social media at least once a day. It’s also a good idea to set up your notifications so you’ll be alerted via an email, text, or message: that way nothing gets missed.

Doing It Yourself Means Participating in Community Conversations

You know from your own life that social media isn’t all about the posting. You also read, comment on, and share with other people’s posts. You can – and should – do the same thing as a business, strategically choosing to engage in conversations that make sense for your company to be involved in. For example, a home daycare provider may want to comment and share posts about family-friendly events.

You Can Learn How to Manage Your Own Social Media

SCORE Westchester offers many free small business building workshops throughout the year. If you’re not comfortable managing your social media or don’t know how to promote your business effectively, attend a class and learn how to do it. Some workshops are in person, while others are webinars you can view from your computer.

Additionally, SCORE Westchester maintains a robust resource library that you can use to build your social media marketing skills. Don’t be afraid to ask your SCORE mentor for advice as well – they’re very invested in helping you grow your business and will be able to point you in the right direction.

Jennifer Shaheen

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