It’s time for small businesses to take a fresh look at their social media strategy (or, for some, create a social media strategy).

They can’t do it alone, though. According to our 2016 State of Local Marketing Report, local affiliates are looking for help, advice and guidance from their corporate brand.

The numbers don’t lie. Social media is important to businesses. A whopping 92% of small businesses agree that social media is important to their business; however, demonstrating ROI is the number one challenge. That’s where the corporate brand can step in.Social-Media-Strategy

With the help of Brandmuscle’s social media experts Jordan Hershman and Shelley Thayer, we’ve compiled three misconceptions local franchisees, dealers and affiliates have when it comes to social media and how their national brands can help.

SPECIAL THANKS to Jordan and Shelley for sharing their social media expertise with local affiliates on the daily – and for taking time out of their busy days to enlighten us for this post.

Misconception #1: “I have to post as much promotional content as possible. I need everyone to know about my deals.”

The type of content that gets posted to affiliate pages is crucial to the pages’ success. This starts with realizing that social media is there for social reasons. People don’t log into social media to hear about a specific deal or your latest promotion.  Although, at times, promotional content is OK to post, these instances should be limited and happen only when you’re informed about who your audience is.

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Put yourself in your customers shoes. What do they want to see on your social pages?

Brandmuscle’s social media advice:

Have your local affiliates think about what their audience is actually interested in. What’s going on in the world that they want to hear about? If they like sports, what’s going on in the NBA playoffs (Go Cavs!) that you could post about? Do they like entertainment news? Post about what happened last night on “The Voice.” If your audience is B2B, look at industry news and updates to post something that might pique their interest.  The point is to get your audience interacting with your page and posts so that your content is seen favorably in the eyes of social media algorithms.

A tip Jordan and Shelley often give: Affiliates should think about themselves as one of the customers. What would you (as a customer) want to see? What might provide some sort of value to you?  What would get you interested and excited as it relates your area of expertise? Whatever that is, post it.

“Small businesses need to remember that quality is greater than quantity,” Thayer said.  “Over-posting won’t get you more interactions and engagements. Find the happy medium that does best with your audience and keep them in mind always.”

Misconception #2: “Once we’re on a social platform, we’re good. We’ll manage the page when we get to it.”

Make sure your local affiliates have the time and resources to be active on the all the platforms that they are on. The quality-over-quantity rule applies here too. Affiliates are better off not being on a social media platform than being careless with it.

Brandmuscle social media advice:

Affiliates need to determine which platforms they should be on and then really focus on those platforms. Keep your pages updated with fresh content that represents your brand and valuable information/imagery to entice current and future customers. Having active, fresh and well-run content on your page significantly improves the brand’s credibility rather than having an outdated, barely-used page. This could depend on your industry and audience, but if you find it difficult to get one post out per platform every month, you might want to reconsider being on that platform, or at least redirect audiences to the platforms you’re most active on.

Which platform, or platforms, makes most sense for your local affiliates? Here’s a Marketer’s Guide to Social Media for Business in 2016 to help you coach them in the right direction.

“One of the biggest mistakes we see is that small businesses think they need to be on every platform just because that platform exists,” Hershman said. “Do an audit of the social media pages you’re currently on and determine which social platforms are best for your business. If you don’t need to be on it because your audience isn’t on it or you can’t properly manage it, don’t be on it.”

Interacting on social media:

Another important part of managing platforms is responding to customers. Customers go to social media to ask
questions, complain or (less frequently) praise companies. Just as you shouldn’t leave a review unanswered, responding to comments on Facebook and mentions on Twitter is just as important. Monitoring your page and responding to people who interact with your business helps you maintain a healthy brand reputation by showing current and prospective clients that you’re available and approachable.

“When responding to customers on social, remember to never delete a negative comment,” Thayer said. “We see dealers and agents doing this time and time again. It only frustrates the customers more. Reach out to the customer to show you’re responsive and work with them offline to solve the problem.”

Misconception #3: “I haven’t seen any sales come from social media, so it’s a waste of time.”

Depending on the product or service local dealers, agents and franchisees are selling, activating sales may not be the most strategic use of social media – especially if you’re not planning a paid social advertising component.

Brandmuscle social media advice:

Local affiliates should see organic social media as another marketing touchpoint – not a sales activation tool. Their current and potential customers are already in the space. Keeping their social media updated and fresh is just one more way to interact with potential consumers and make them aware of your presence. Although it might be hard to track new sales and leads through social, focus on tracking other measurements like conversations, interactions and new fans/followers on your social pages. Think about social media as more of an awareness tool than a direct sales tool. Affiliates should work on building their audience, sharing good content and creating conversations first.

It can be difficult for dealers, agents and franchisees to see the ROI on social media. Hershman says local affiliates need to remember what social media is for.

“It’s an awareness tool and a tool for establishing credibility,” Hershman said. “When the customer is making a purchase decision, you want to be the business that comes to mind. When customers do research, you want them to find positive things about you. They’ll be aware of your business and know it’s credible, hopefully due to your social media presence.”

Local affiliates know that social media is important and that they should be on it. However, they need the guidance and expertise from their national brands when it comes to organic social strategy.  As brand managers, take the time to coach your local affiliates, dealers and franchisees to take a fresh look at their social media strategy and pages.

 

While this post focuses on what local businesses are doing wrong with social media, there are several opportunities small business can take advantage of with the help of their brand managers. From paid advertising to organically posting, social media provides numerous ways for affiliates to market their business to their audience. Our next blog post will look at the different opportunities small businesses have on social, both organic and paid.

What other misconceptions do local affiliates have when it comes to social media? What has your local affiliate done well on social media? Let us know in the comments below.