You’ve identified the business goals that you want to achieve from social media. You have done your home work and found your ideal customer. You’ve chosen the right social toys (sorry tools) and platforms that will benefit your business the most. Now what?
After the 3 first steps of designing the perfect social media marketing strategy for your business, allocating budget and resources for social media will be your next move.
Now we’re talking money!
Many business owners don’t pay much attention to the other steps in the process, but when it comes to allocating budget, they become math scientists. I know that small businesses are always short on money, but let me put a BOLD statement here!
If you’re not willing to invest in your business, then you’re not willing to succeed. Tweet This!
Frugal isn’t the way to go with social media marketing, neither is extravagant. If you’re really willing to give whatever it takes to grow your business (within your budget limits of course), then, and only then, you’re going to be able to see real results. There is too much going on in the social media marketing industry right now, and it’s really hard to determine what’s legit and what’s not, and that’s where I come!
What Are The Things That You Should Invest On?
It really depends on what you already have and what’s needed for your business to make social media work. However, let’s assume that you’re a small business owner (probably one man show) who doesn’t have any resources related to social media marketing.
1- Invest In The Right Professionals
If you don’t have a social media marketer on your team OR if you don’t want to do social media marketing yourself, then let a professional handle it.
Since I’m doing this series “designing the perfect social media marketing strategy for your business”, you don’t really need an expert strategist to help you design one, because good ones will charge you lots of money for a custom strategy. All you have to do is to follow this series of posts and by the end you’ll be able to design a custom strategy for your own business.
What you need to spend money on is a social media manager who’ll handle all the day-to-day activity across your social platforms that you probably don’t have enough time for. Many people think that social media management is easy and anyone can do it, but be careful. If the person you’re going to be hiring doesn’t have a solid background in social media marketing, they could easily ruin your overall brand image over an offensive tweet or status update. Having the knowledge to work with Facebook and Twitter isn’t enough to manage your business’s social presence. If you want to learn how to hire the perfect social media manager, check these 2 posts “what makes a magnificent social media manager” and “how to write the perfect social media management job description”.
Depending on what channels you’re going to use for social media, many professionals are needed to accomplish different tasks on different social platforms. If your social media marketing strategy incorporates the use of Pinterest, then a graphic designer/photographer (if you sell physical products) might be needed. If you’re willing to make use of content marketing (and I believe you should), then a professional content writer is needed. If you’re doing video marketing, then you know who you need. A video producer/editor!
I know that this sounds a lot, but it doesn’t have to be.
You only start small, and then increase your budget for additional services as your business grows. Don’t make the excuse of not having the budget for it. Start with a small budget and then increase as you go!
2- Invest In The Right Tools
Tools won’t actually buy you a ticket to the social media promise land. They will only help you simplify your social media efforts. In the previous post “choosing the right tools and platforms”, I’ve discussed what type of tools that your business could need. Put in mind that social media marketing isn’t about tools as much as it is about relationships. If you provide value and build strong relationships with your audience, then your business will thrive. If not, then all the money in the world won’t be enough to fix your broken business.
You don’t actually have to choose which tools your business needs to manage, track, listen and report your social media actions. If you’ve really done your home work and hired a professional social media manager, then they’re going to be choosing the most effective tools for your business. Based on their experience in the social media marketing field, they’ll know exactly which tools to use, and which ones will be more effective than others for your business.
3- Invest In Advertising
I know that small business owners hate that word. However, I noticed that there is a misconception that is going on which says that advertising is expensive and only business owners with access to big budgets are able to do it!
The truth is that you don’t have to allocate tens of thousands of dollars for advertising, neither thousands nor hundreds if you don’t have them. You can start for as low as $20 or $30 dollars a day, and you’ll still see great results even if you’re just starting out from scratch.
I like the idea of having an initial following to work with at first and advertising happens to be the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to build that initial following. Most social platforms today offer an advertising option for you to gain more fans, followers and subscribers starting from few cents each depending on your industry. Most business owners struggle to build that momentum on social media and that’s why they decide that social media marketing is a slow and tedious process. I’m telling you that it doesn’t have to be that way!
Because of the viral nature of social media, the more followers you have, the more new ones that you’re going to acquire exponentially. Once you have a fair enough following on each social platform that you’re using, you’re going to start seeing real results from your social media efforts.
Is There An Alternative To Advertising?
Of course there are alternatives to advertising, but believe it or not, they’re all expensive to produce or take lots of time. You could hire a viral content creator (which will cost you thousands of dollars for a good one) so they write you a viral piece of content, video or an infographic that may or may not give you the results you wish. You can hire a guest posting professional (which will cost you thousands of dollars as well) to land you a guest post on a popular blog in your industry, but it might not produce the results you wish. I’m not obviously saying that these practices don’t work. They work like magic, but they rely on many variables, unlike advertising where you only track your cost per fan or follower and try to decrease it by increasing the effectiveness of your ads which will result in an increase in your CTR.
The great thing about advertising is that your budget will decrease as your following increases. The more followers you have, the more word of mouth you’re going to get from them liking your content, sharing it, retweeting it, recommending it…etc and the less money you’re going to spend on advertising as your audience will do most of the work for you.
The Biggest Mistake That Will Kill Your Social Media Marketing Campaign!
If you’re a constant reader of my blog, you have probably noticed that I insist a lot on avoiding cheap services. Sure that you can get an article written for $5, but that article will be worthless for your business. If you invest those $5 in Facebook advertising, they might get you 30 or 50 super targeted fans, but can that article do the same?
I’ve worked with many clients who outsource several sensitive tasks (like content creation) to other service providers that charge very few bucks to get the job done. Most of these providers are middlemen and they pay their contractors less than half of what you pay them.
So here is the scenario. You spend some money on cheap services thinking that you’ve made a great deal. You get low quality services that won’t do anything for your business. You won’t care at first, because you still want to justify your decision thinking that you stumbled on a goldmine. After a while, you’ll start seeing that the money you’ve spent didn’t change your business a bit. You’ll think about firing your contractor and then eventually do it. Then, you’ll start thinking that this whole social media marketing thing doesn’t work for your business (in an attempt from you to justify the money you’ve spent for nothing), and then you’ll end up giving up the whole idea!
So let me get this straight. You spent money to be miserable and lose your motivation and enthusiasm. What a great deal you HAD!!!
No matter what situation you’re in or what budget you have, don’t you ever invest in cheap services. You should treat your business the way you expect it to treat you. Your business is your baby, and you don’t want your baby to eat cheap food or wear cheap (low quality) clothes, because that will result in it (you business) getting sick, and you’ll end up spending more money on fixing it.
If you don’t have a big enough budget that can cover all of your social media marketing strategies, then start with just one strategy. Start with just one professional contractor. Do the work yourself if you don’t have the money to hire, but never let your business DOWN!
Where To Get The Money For Social Media Marketing
Many business owners think that they need to get additional money for social media marketing. While this is great for people who have extra money to spend on new marketing channels, it’s not for the small business owner who can barely afford keeping their business running. Before I can tell you how you can get the money for social media marketing, let me put a bold statement here!
Social media marketing isn’t expensive as other traditional marketing channels, YET! Tweet This!
Yes you heard that right. Social media is still in its beginnings, and most businesses haven’t made complete sense of it yet. However, when they do, the competition will rise along the cost, and it’ll become more expensive with time. So this is your chance of joining the bandwagon earlier to not get left behind. Now here is how you get the money for social media marketing!
1- Reallocate The Budget Of Other Traditional Marketing Channels
You don’t actually have to increase your overall marketing budget to include social media marketing. All you have to do is reallocating a percentage of the budget meant for other marketing strategies to social media. I see business owners spend tens of thousands of dollars on advertising, but they complain of not having the budget for social media. Yes, it’s true that social media marketing doesn’t have an instant ROI like advertising, but if you don’t look at the big picture and invest long term, you’re doomed to fail in today’s economy.
2- Eliminate The Weed
I always wonder why sometimes business owners keep investing in an area that is bringing very little to no return to their businesses. It’s true that we’re all afraid of change, we want to stay in our safe zones, but you know what is the basic principle that this world operates upon? Evolution! And you know what happens to species that don’t evolve? Yes, you guessed right. They go extinct!
As a business owner, you should be courageous enough to break out of your shell and try new strategies and techniques. If you notice that something is bringing very little return, then why waste your resources maintaining it while you can invest those resources into social media marketing. So eliminate things that aren’t working and allocate their budget for social media marketing.
3- Take a Look At Your Existing Team
Sometimes, you don’t even have to hire a social media marketer to do the job for your business. If you work with enough talented people, then look no further, because one of them will be a very good fit for a part time social media marketing role if trained correctly. This way, you only spend some money on some of the training courses available online (most of them aren’t really expensive), or if you want, hire a professional for few hours to train your team member, and they’ll be ready to take charge of your social media marketing strategy. I believe that there is no need for a new talent if you have existing ones, especially if you can’t afford it. So do an assessment of your team members, decide on which one is most suitable for the job, and make sure you reward them with a raise in their salary!
A Word Of Caution!
Just because social media is working like magic for businesses today, that you throw all of your other marketing strategies in the trash.
Social media is neither the fit-for-all solution nor the magic pill that will cure all of your business diseases. It works best if associated with other marketing strategies like SEO, PPC, email marketing…etc. So don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, and make sure you invest in the areas that will bring in the best return for your business.
What If You Want To Do It Yourself!
In a matter of fact, I really encourage micro-business owners to do social media management for themselves before they hire someone else. As you know, there is no one that knows your company better than you. If you get yourself familiar with how social networks operate and how your business should communicate with its audience via those channels, hiring a good social media manager and transmitting to them the knowledge you’ve acquired from doing it yourself will be easier and more effective. All you have to do then is giving them direction and they’ll manage your social presence even more effectively (since it’s their job).
There are also many guides online (training programs, ebooks) and even real books that show you how you can do all the management yourself for like an hour or half an hour a day. The most important thing is to invest your time and effort in the right areas, because if you don’t, social media marketing could be VERY VERY time consuming.
Now that you know how to allocate the budget for social media marketing and where to get it from, it’s time that we dive into social branding. In the next post of the series, you’re going to learn how to brand your social profiles to have the look and feel of your business. This is very important because it’s the only way to building an affinity with your audience. So subscribe below to stay tuned.
Image Credit: Humor Blog