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You probably have a Facebook page for your business, a Twitter account, and maybe even an Instagram and Pinterest account.

You have been told time and time again by gurus, experts, marketers, and bloggers that small businesses need a social media presence. 

But have you ever stepped back and wondered why? 

Why do I spend time sharing content to engage my audience on Facebook? Is there a point for all of these tweets ???

Maybe there is maybe not. 

Sure, there are some companies that benefit from active social media accounts – and we’ll talk about them – but there are also tons of times when throwing your time and money on social media is just a waste.

Consider this: Perhaps its time to rethink your social media strategy.

In this blog article, we’ll take a critical look at social media marketing with respect to your business and see if it’s adding value to your business or if you’re simply misdirecting your resources.

Are you wondering “when is social media a waste of time for your business?” 

Or should you invest more time and resources on it? 

Then read on:

Let’s start with an example

I have a friend, let’s call him Adam, who inspired this article. He is a corporate and wedding entertainer in Ireland. 

He charges up to $1000 for a show. Since I’ve known him, people have encouraged him to spend more time and money on Facebook and Twitter. 

He checks the social accounts of his competitors and discovers they have pages with twice as many likes. Surely he doesn’t want to lose any gigs to his competition.

Every two years someone will succeed in convincing Adam to use social media. Then he hires a great social media manager who will do it and sometimes he even does it himself. 

The same thing happens every time.

After a few weeks of engaging with his “audience”, he starts getting messages from people who want to hire him for a show. 

Success? 

Well no 

If the people who notify him find out that a show costs $1000 and not $300, they look elsewhere. 

Everyone in the crowd may love the band … but they can’t hire him for a private performance.

The problem here is that he has two types of viewers: the people who saw him and just like what he did, and those who are actually willing to pay him for a show. 

The first group is active on social media, but the second is probably not.

That said, the problem is at the root: most of its competitors are either targeting a lower price or following Facebook likes just because they feel good about themselves. 

For Adam, there really isn’t a social media strategy that is going to pay off. Social media is a waste of his time. It will be better if he invests his energy elsewhere. 

Let’s see how this example applies to you and your small business.

Why do you use social media?

To find out if social media is worth it for your business, you need to find out why you are using it and what you are hoping to achieve. 

There are many good reasons to use social media, but the three broad categories they fall into are:

  • Reach new customers/partners.
  • To stay in contact with existing customers/partners.
  • Provide customer support.

If you’re trying to get likes after likes or share memes because your competitors are using social media, those aren’t good reasons to invest the time and money. To paraphrase my mother, “Would you jump off a bridge just because your competitors did?”

Sit down and spend some time thinking about the why. If you can’t find a good reason, you are probably wasting your time. For businesses that are supported by social media, the reasons are very clear. 

Even if you have a good reason, your efforts may be misdirected. 

Let’s take the three categories in turn and make sure you’re investing in social media in a way that actually pays off.

1. Reach new customers

Reaching new customers is one of the main reasons small businesses use social media. Customers are a company’s lifeblood and having too many is rarely a problem.

Note: I’ll use the word customer for the sake of simplicity, but it also applies to customers and business partners. What you want to achieve depends on your business. 

However, while it is true that social media can be a great way to reach new potential customers, you need to be sure that you are reaching the right customers. 

Back to Adam. There were a lot of people who wanted to hire him on social media, they just didn’t want to hire him at the prices he charged. Twenty years ago when he was just starting out, social media might have been a good place to start a new business, but now that he’s one of the top entertainers in Ireland it isn’t. 

If you want to use social media to reach new customers, make sure those customers are there. If you have a B2B software company, trying to get likes on your company Facebook page in the hopes that a potential lead might stumble upon you may be misdirected. It may work from time to time, but it probably isn’t the best use of your limited resources.

As for Adam, he finds most of his customers when he performs. You see his show and want to book him. Instead of running out after an event, he makes sure he stays visible for half an hour after the set is over. That extra 30 minutes of waiting is a far better way for him to get new customers than the same amount of time spent on Facebook.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Are the people I want to reach on Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? or LinkedIn?
  • While you are there, what is the best way to contact you?
  • If they’re on social media, do I have a way to take them from “engagement” to actually buying them? Is that even possible??

If you can’t find convincing answers to these simple questions, you are probably wasting money looking for customers on social media.

2. To keep in touch with existing customers

The easiest people to sell to are people who have already bought from you. 

Once you’ve convinced them of your business proposal, doing it a second time is much easier. Social media can be a really great way to keep in touch with your existing customers. 

This is by far the best use in my opinion.

Let’s say you’re a small company that sells handmade goods on Etsy. Your customers don’t visit your store every day. However, what they could do is like your Facebook Page. 

When you have new products on the internet or see something you like, share it on your page. They already know that they are at least a little interested in your offer.

This strategy can apply to many different companies. Restaurants can share the latest menus and opening times. Websites that sell information products (like Envato Tuts +) can advertise their new courses and announce sales. 

That’s not to say this is a surefire strategy. 

It is entirely possible that keeping in touch with your customers on social media is a waste of time. 

If you’re selling a product that customers typically buy only once, for example, a house, then it’s not worth getting them involved on social media. When you are in a B2B company, most of your existing customers are not active on social media, or at least not professionally active.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do I have existing customers who I can stay in touch with on social media? 
  • Do I have something to offer? Or do I just stay in touch with them?
  • Is it worth the time to get involved?

3. Provide customer support

Most large companies have someone sitting in their customer service department starring at Facebook and Twitter. This is because some users prefer running to these platforms as soon as they encounter a problem. 

Instead of calling customer service, they’ll complain loudly and publicly. Hence, It is a solid investment to have someone look out for and offer help.

This is not always the case with smaller businesses. Unless you have a large number of customers who need help right away, social media is a pretty bad way to offer assistance. You’re much better off redirecting them to other options like a knowledge base or FAQ.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Is social media really the best place to offer customer support? Why?
  • Are you just using the excuse that you’re monitoring customer feedback to crawl Twitter?

Final thoughts?

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of ​​whether social media is a good fit for your business. If it really helps you reach out to new customers, keep in touch with older customers, or provide customer support, this is a solid investment. If it doesn’t help you achieve any of these goals, you are probably wasting your resources. 

Even if social media is making good use of your time and money, you need to be doing it the right way by only investing time on the social channels that are right for your business. Pursuing the wrong goals incorrectly is as bad as pursuing the wrong goals.

Wrap up

Just as marketers and gurus like to say, social media is not a safe bet. For some small businesses, social media is a waste of time. 

There are many small businesses that just don’t need to have an active Facebook or Twitter account. In this article, I showed you how to tell if your company is one of them. 

If it doesn’t and you would benefit from a social strategy, now is the time to create a solid plan and execute it efficiently. 

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