Well I’ve already broken my resolution to improve my social media. Come to think of it, was it even a resolution? I’m not sure. I’m thinking now that I am simply going to have to start setting aside one full working day again to solely concentrate on updating the sites. Currently I just dip in every so often and I’m not disciplined enough to do that every day. Social media feels like such a thankless task and I know for a fact that I am not the only one who feels like this.
Hats off to those who are dedicated to making Youtube videos, vlogs, blogs and hashtagging on a regular basis. But what are the statistics on this actually working? Is it driving more traffic to your business? Are people paying you for your products and services? And is the time sacrifice benefitting your profit margins, because, don’t forget, noone is paying you to do that kind of admin. All small businesses lose many unpaid hours to the admin side of their work. Largely profits do not justify it. Outsourcing is the only way to claw those work hours back but what small business can afford the price tag?
Social media has become more of a communications tool for friends, rather than a selling medium for businesses, certainly for small businesses with tight budgets. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube – these are the main stays of social media right now. Facebook is dead in the water, as is Linkedin.
What I currently see with small businesses that have been around for a while, is that social media saturation is causing an about turn. I am constantly coming into contact with people of all ages who have turned their back on it. There are people enjoying real time contact with friends, family and business. There are people who simply don’t need or don’t get the draw of social media. There are people who don’t feel the need to lay their lives out there on a plate for all to see. These are the people who probably wouldn’t think to use social media to find business services. And yet these are probably the kinds of people you actually want as customers because they see a different value in their purchases. But how do you find them if they aren’t using social media?
A growing number of small businesses benefit from word of mouth for their business. They work within their communities, they have face to face contact with their customer base. They build real relationships. These days I am getting more and more work through the people in the building where my studio is based. Once people know you have a skill, in my case clothing alterations, people will utilise it. They are getting a valuable service, I get work.
Small businesses have the huge advantage of being integrated into their local community. In my case, the 30 or so small businesses and individuals who rent offices and workshops in my building. Once you build up a relationship with your customers you’re on to a winner. You won’t get this with a large faceless brand where it’s all about the hardsell. Personalised services and one to one customer interaction are highly desirable and are the major selling point for small companies that value their customers and enjoy that social aspect of it. It’s how they stand out from the crowd.
Personally I don’t use social media for my personal life. So if I didn’t have a business my social media footprint would be very small indeed. I use Facebook for family and friends, I use WordPress for personal blogging, I use Instagram to throw out the occasional photograph. And these days that’s about it. I am happy without it.
For businesses like mine the only site worth its interaction is Instagram because of its visual content, but is that getting me paying clients? Etsy still accounts for a proportion of my business sales, but I am always wary of a site over which you have no control. Their algorithms change. Their sales ethos has changed a lot. But the audience is worldwide and searching for products is less troublesome which takes a lot of the work away from me.
What I really want is for someone to tell me it’s okay not to have social media for business on the scale I currently use it. I know it isn’t working, but I feel obliged to continue with it. I want to stop worrying, ditch 80% of my accounts and enjoy my business for what it really is.