Is Social Media Worth it for Small Businesses?

September 20, 2016

I have the same, sometimes painful, conversation with small businesses on a weekly basis. Business X is a small company with minimal resources that is interested in generating business on social media but hesitant because their past efforts haven’t yielded anything.

The answer on my end is never simple. It actually consists of a series of questions that the potential client needs to answer. Because whether social media will have an ROI is reliant on the business itself, not the person or agency hired to help “run” their social media.

I thought I’d share a typical series of questions with you to help give insight on whether your small business will get anything out of social media.

1. How soon do you expect to yield results on social media?

The most common answer here is immediately. If they aren’t as overtly eager and a tad bit more realistic the answer maybe “I’ll give you three months to see what you can do.” Social media is a process, like any process, it takes time to establish, build, grow, implement, and execute. Is three months enough time? In some instances, yes, in others it may be 6 months or a year. This will depend on how well established your brand is and what you’re willing to allocate to your brands social efforts. As with anything the most common reason for failure is giving up too soon.

2. How do you expect to measure ROI on this investment?

ROI and social media are like oil and water. But the relationship is certainly beginning to get better with age and with data. The truth is social media is not all about sales, and cannot be measured to a T. It’s a platform to develop leads, relationships, maintain reputation and image, as well as make sales. So there are several aspects of social media that may not be directly tied to sales that are generating sales for your brand. As social media influence grows your social presence will be more and more connected to sales. The truth is that you will make sales via social media and if your brand can even convert 1-2 direct sales per month (depending on your sticker price) your business will most likely cover it’s social media costs.

3. How much are you willing to spend on advertising?

This answer varies based on the platform you are targeting, and which platform is best suited for your brand. If you’re a brick and mortar retailer that is heavily focused on Facebook and drawing foot traffic, then you’re going to need to SPEND. Because Facebook has nearly if not already killed organic reach for brands. So you’re going to need to be willing to fork up $100-150 per month minimum to get any semblance of reach.

Now if you’re a brand that wants to grow on Instagram you won’t need to spend as much money on advertising, although we suggest you still create a spend, but what you’ll need to spend money on is hiring an agency that understands the platform, and either that same organization or another to create visually appealing content. This is difficult but the rewards can be exponential.

4. Are you willing, as the business owner, to drive the social media initiative?

Essentially, how involved do you plan on being? Are you going to help my organization drive in-house initiatives? Are you going to help us align your goals with our implementation and services? Are you wiling to get behind your own social media efforts?

If your business is willing to answer these questions positively then social media is absolutely worth your time, effort, and resources. It’s the future of advertisement, sales, and purchasing decisions. But like all things, they don’t work unless you do. And if you operate a small business you should know this first hand.