The Biggest Mistake Small Businesses Make with Social Media

Every once in a while, we here at BuzzCrate have an opportunity to make a real difference to small businesses just by publishing a simple blog post. This is one of those times. What you’re about to read will, we hope, be a great eye opener for those of you already using social media to promote your business, or for those who are considering doing so.

I want you to think, just for a minute, about one of the crucial functions of your business. Something that you know takes a specialized skill set. Something that may be easy to “get”, but very difficult to master. Some things that come to mind are tasks like woodworking, cake decorating, sales copy writing, graphic design, or programming.

Think of a task like that within your business. Really get a sense of how much time and effort it took to really master that skill, and how much that employee’s mastery means to your business.

Now I want you to imagine, for a minute, what would happen to your business if you let your office clerk, your neighbor’s kid, or someone else who “gets it” but hasn’t “mastered it” do that task for your business day in, day out.

Can you see what a catastrophe that would be?

  • An automotive shop hiring someone who has done an oil change to rebuild engines?
  • A roofing company hiring someone who patched their own roof as a crew foreman?
  • A spa hiring someone with painted nails as their esthetician?
  • A transport company hiring someone with a learners’ permit to drive their Freightliners?

You couldn’t imagine doing something like that in your business. It would be probably the worst decision you could make, right? Even if you cut your labour costs in half, you would lose so many customers so quickly, you would likely never be able to recover. Right?

I want you to really understand the gravity of what it would be like to under-value the mastery of those skills, and hire someone less than qualified to complete them. What effect would that have on your business? Your lifestyle? Your family?

It paints a grim picture for sure.

Now there is something I would like you to “try on” for a minute. For some of you, this may not be true; However, for a large percentage of you who are reading this, I want you to take this in for a second.

When it comes to your online presence – your website and your online marketing, including social media – you’re doing exactly the same thing.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t see a freelance project or employee position come up, where someone is having their Receptionist, Office Assistant, File Clerk, Customer Service Rep, or some other unrelated person within the company handle their website and online marketing.

Many of you are likely already doing this. You have someone in another role within your company managing your online presence. Or perhaps you are managing it yourself, or having a friend or one of your children manage it for you.

Think back. Think about that ominous feeling you got about the future of your business when you took something essential to your business that requires mastery, and put it in the hands of an unskilled worker.

You need to get that feeling about your online presence, as well.

Businesses need to begin to understand the real value of a qualified person working on their online marketing. Yes, online marketing is lower cost than print advertising. Yes, everyone knows how to use the internet these days. And yes, everyone under the age of 28 may seem like an absolute internet and social media genius sometimes.

But it takes a lot more skill to use effectively and get results than even print or broadcast advertising.

If you were going to get a television commercial produced, you wouldn’t let your receptionist carry around a camcorder, would you? Of course not!

But when you have your receptionist, sales person, customer service person, or other unrelated employee handle your online presence, that is exactly what you are doing.

Now, we’re not crazy. We work with a lot of small businesses, startups, independent professionals and non-profits. We know you likely don’t have the budget for an $80,000/year Online Marketing Consultant, in house.

But you don’t need one.

How many hours do you think your “online stuff” person takes each day away from their primary function. 2? 3? 4? You would be surprised how long it takes for someone inexperienced with using the internet for marketing can actually take in managing a presence like that.

Conservatively, let’s just say 2 hours each day. And let’s give them the new BC minimum wage – $10/hr. That is $20/day in lost productivity on online marketing that, lets face it, probably isn’t bringing back $20/day.

Over the course of one year, you are losing over $5000 worth of productivity from that employee for something that may or may not have worked for you at all.

Much like hiring a salesman with social phobia,
you’re saving in the short-term for a larger long-term loss.

There are a variety of companies, like our own, who offer services to small, medium, and even large businesses, non-profits, organizations, and governments to build, brand, and better their presence online. But you might think having a dedicated person is unnecessary and expensive, right?

Well, no and no.

Most of us charge well under $5000/year for services above and beyond what your receptionist could achieve. Companies who do this professionally study, gain experience, do and read market research, and commit their entire careers to mastering online marketing, branding, and PR.

We call it “new media” – everything from Facebook and Twitter to blogs, online ads, search engines, directories, online video, websites, and more.

Not only do our services typically cost less than losing productivity from your regular staff (with our typical small business client seeing costs of around $3100/year, on average), but the return on investment is far greater.

If you’re having someone in-house manage your online presence, or managing it yourself, you likely don’t even know how well those forms of marketing are performing – and if you do, you probably don’t think very much of the results.

New media specialists not only make a point of tracking “metrics” (numbers that tell us if we’re making you money or not!), but they pride themselves in just how much of a return we can generate on your investment.

When was the last time your office manager expressed an interest in providing a good ROI for their wage?

Exactly.

I firmly believe that it is only because of a lack of understanding that businesses choose to operate this way.

Because you may not know everything there is to know about social media yourself, you fail to see how much is really involved in using it successfully – especially when there are hundreds of millions of people and businesses already on Facebook. You think to yourself, “Well, it can’t be that hard. If they already have a profile, they know how to use it!”

That is true in the same way that owning a television makes you
qualified to produce SuperBowl ads.

I say that to illustrate a point. The above sentence seems absolutely preposterous – crazy even!

But there is no difference from a couch potato producing SuperBowl ads and your nephew building your business website. None whatsoever. Unless of course your nephew is a professional web designer with experience and samples of sites that have generated real revenue – then all we have to say is, you’re one lucky aunt or uncle!

The time has come for small businesses to start seeing the real value in new media. In our world today, it has become an almost essential part of modern business life.

30 years ago, you weren’t in business unless you were in the phonebook.

Today, you aren’t in business unless you’re on the web.

The cost of the ad space may be lower, but the expertise required is far beyond anything that any marketing or advertising medium has ever required before.

Luckily for you, even when hiring a qualified new media expert for your business, the cost of their efforts will still be far smaller than the cost of an equally effective television or even radio or newspaper ad.

I want to hear from some small business owners on this topic. Do you agree? Disagree? Did this blog post help shed light on these areas of your business, or are you still having difficulty seeing the value of new media?

Join in and share!