Small business owners wear many hats: a manager, accountant, sales associate, technology director – the list goes on. So when they're told it's time to add yet another hat to the collection – a social media expert – the work can seem daunting. In fact, many small business owners don’t see the importance of social media if it doesn’t drive sales or immediately improve the bottom line. When done properly though, social media can be a valuable marketing channel for small, local businesses and an innovative way to grow an audience, develop relationships and showcase new products or services.
In our State of Local Marketing Report, we addressed some of the worries local affiliates have regarding social media including why they’re not using these platforms, which platforms they’re actually using and what’s working for them:
Local Affiliates Love Facebook
Although many affiliates are hesitant to use social media, the affiliates who are on social media lean toward one outlet: Facebook. With over 1.2 billion users, Facebook is ranked highest on our satisfaction index (109*) and has an adoption rate of 84 percent.
Affiliates Find Twitter Confusing
Twitter ranked second in social media channel satisfaction amongst local affiliates with an index of 89, but still came in below average when compared to all marketing tactics. * Affiliates find Twitter “too complicated” and remark that it’s difficult to hone in on their key consumer groups.
Affiliates Struggle with LinkedIn and Blogging
We also asked about LinkedIn and the use of branded blogs to reach consumers - both useful tactics for thought leadership, personal engagement and content sharing. Affiliates found the most success using personal LinkedIn accounts to grow their networks versus business accounts. For blogging, they cited that the time required to manage the platform and create content was “like a business in itself.”
Overall, affiliates reported that social media was too complicated, referencing the time it takes to learn the platforms, grow an audience and create/post content regularly. They also referenced the challenge of posting content that actually reaches their audience in a crowded space going as far as saying "Facebook is like having a billboard in your basement."
So how can brand marketers help ease the pain of social media?
Helping small business affiliates make the most of social media means making it simple, quick and tied to the topline. It also means providing content that will cut through the clutter and help build both a local and national brand.
"When we help small business owners with social, we focus on both the immediate and long-term benefits," said Jordan Hershman, a social media expert on Brandmuscle’s digital team. "Right out of the gate, they gain some credibility by having an active presence on social channels and they give their customers one more place to find them online. Long-term, they are building a local community of customers more likely to buy from them versus a national company or competitor."
But effectively implementing local social media programs is more than just creating pages and posting content, Hershman said. "We provide timely content that is interesting to local audiences, but growing social engagement goes beyond just content. We coach local affiliates about integrating with other marketing tactics like local events and have the ability to support custom social media advertising campaigns when they want to promote things like sales, new products and store openings."
Hershman said that paid social targeting plays a big role in the success of Facebook marketing for this type of promotional content. "It makes it easy for clients to pinpoint their targeted audience and saturate that area with branded content and advertising – especially as social channels become overcrowded with messages and make it difficult for brands to stand out."
Overall, social media will continue to grow as an effective way to market local small businesses and national brands as consumers spend more time on these platforms and younger, social-obsessed generations continue to gain buying power. For marketers wondering how to address social media, understanding the strategies, tools and services available is the first step to easing the pain of their local affiliates.
What do you think? Is social media a pain for your local affiliates? Are there solutions you've tried that work? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to learn about Brandmuscle’s social media support? Our Social Media Assistant program helps local affiliates market on social media platforms through a single platform that provides corporate-approved content as well as other images, articles and information relevant to the business owner’s target groups. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more.
*For an explanation of the Satisfaction scoring index, download a complimentary copy of the State of Local Marketing Report.