The average business allocates 12% of its marketing budget to social media. This figure is expected to almost double over the next 5 years. Put simply, if you’re B2C, if you sell anything with visual interest or provide a useful service, you have no business not marketing through social media. But with the main purported benefits of social media marketing being increased exposure and brand visibility, it’s easy to see why small business owners are reluctant to open their wallets to the platforms.
31% of companies can’t actually evaluate the impact that social media marketing has on their business. Users might see their ad, ignore it, then recall some weeks later and seek out the website directly. Tracking this kind of wayward ROI is often impossible, leaving businesses to assume that marketing through social media is a ‘spray and pray’ strategy — investments without direct, measurable return. Budgeting and planning is how business owners can offset this uncertainty, targeting their efforts to specific platforms with a budget that reflects their overall plan for growth.
The larger goal
How are you looking to expand your consumer base? This will have a substantial impact on how you proceed with social media marketing. If you provide a local service and are looking to spread the word through your community, your budget will be geared towards Facebook ads (which enable you to target local users), Google Plus, Instagram, and maybe Twitter for the option of locational hashtags. If you sell physical products, you should make use of Instagram and TikTok; if you provide a service, focusing on Facebook may suit you better. LinkedIn is showing consistent growth in both B2B and B2C domains, so this option is worth considering, especially as users are less inundated with content, and so have a slightly higher attention span (blog posts do very well on LinkedIn, whereas on Instagram, they struggle to compete with videos).
Agency or in-house?
The use of agencies is on the rise, as companies with enough cash to spend are seeing the value of specialist help. If you are a smaller, younger company, then you may have no choice but to handle it personally. In this case, consider tools like Canva for simple, user-friendly graphic design that you can then use to create and share media across multiple platforms.
Influencers and partnerships
The same can be said for influencers. Lucrative but easily mismanaged, they are not partnerships any small business should rush into hastily. There are other forms of partnership, however, that can be employed on a budget. Content creators or other businesses often engage in mutually-beneficial arrangements where each posts the other’s promotional material on their respective pages. These kinds of partnership are sometimes best struck up through personal social media accounts, arising naturally from the user’s engagement with topics as a consumer rather than professional marketer.
If you do have some money to spend, Instagram influencers can yield serious return, and you don’t necessarily have to go for the biggest names. Several business owners have reported making hundreds of thousands in a few months by paying popular Instagram users to endorse their product. These users weren’t monetised and weren’t A-list celebrities, but had loyal, returning fanbases of people who genuinely liked them. This is a key distinguishing feature in influencer campaigns that yield fruit and campaigns that fizzle out: two users with the same number of followers can have very different levels of engagement from their fans. Those that have an active following are likely to exert much more tangible influence over their followers than those that don’t. Bear this in mind when digging for potential candidates.
The content itself
Social media is about content. Translating your business into content is easier for some than others (with food manufacturers having the best time), but the rule is the same across industries: approach from the consumer’s perspective. What would interest the average person about your product/service? Find the value, lay it out clearly, and then think of ways to package it attractively. The following are types of content your business can create for social media:
• Photos and images
• Slideshows (text and images/video)
• Continuous videos
• Blog posts
Videos are the most labour intensive, especially if requiring production and bespoke filming. Graphic design images/videos can also do damage to your account balance if you’re outsourcing the work. Copywriting might be the cheapest option, but it’s also the least immediately appealing to a generation forever drunk on multimedia content.
There is no argument to be had — companies that draw up plans do better than companies that don’t. Especially in the torrent of media that we know today, your efforts have to be focused and targeted to have any chance of success. There is nothing more dispiriting than a ill-planned, ineffective marketing campaign.
Ross Pike Head of Marketing at modular exhibition stand company Quadrant2Design comments, ‘It’s hard as a business owner to recover from a marketing endeavour that falls flat. You tell yourself that no one is interested in your business, and that Kylie Jenner will have to personally sponsor your product in order for anyone to pay it any attention.’ In reality, many of the marketing campaigns that succeed are simple, understated and use a consolidated brand image to catch the user’s eye. Start planning your budget carefully to make the most of your marketing material on social media.