When you own and run your one-man business, you find yourself stretching your knowledge and skills into all business areas. It requires you to meet your fears head on so that you can see business success.
One area that many entrepreneurs find challenging is social media. It is still a fairly new communication and marketing avenue, so getting started can be scary.
But, when you look at the numbers, it’s hard to continue avoiding the jump into social media. As published by Social Media Examiner in their third annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report, businesses social media efforts are paying off:
- 72 percent of survey respondents have seen an increase in website traffic due to social media
- 59 percent achieved new partnerships
- 48 percent have seen better sales
- 59 percent of self-employed respondents saw a reduction in their marketing costs
Looking at these stats, there’s no disputing that social media is here to stay. But the numbers alone won’t calm and correct your fears, so here is a list of common social media fears and what you can do to overcome those fears.
1. It will be costly
As with any new marketing effort, it is assumed that social media will be costly, cutting into the already tight marketing budget. The good news is that social media can actually be extremely low cost; in some instances, businesses are able to successfully utilize social media with no cost (other than their own time).
Just as you would do with any marketing approach, it’s best to first do your research and devise a plan before you start your social media efforts. This will let you see what type of costs that may be involved and will help put your fears at ease. If you choose to DIY then costs can easily be kept low.
Avoid re-printing existing marketing material and notify people electronically that you are online (follow your clients on twitter, send a newsletter etc). Over time you can update your print materials.
There is always the option of paying a marketing group to create and manage a social media campaigns but if cost is a concern there is enough info out there to do it yourself.
2. It will eat up my time
If you are not disciplined with your activities, social media does have the possibility of eating up quite a bit of time.
The best way to ensure that social media doesn’t waste your time is to plan out your social media activities. Create a schedule and set aside specific chunks of time that you are willing to devote to your social media activities. If you are willing to focus solely on Facebook, Twitter, blogging or the other activities you have outlined for that time frame, you will get quite a bit accomplished during a short amount of time.
3. It will be difficult
People can be fearful of new technologies. And this fear can cause them to turn away from social media. Thankfully, social media doesn’t have to be difficult. Sure, there are fancy things you could do to enhance your profiles and blogs but these are unnecessary and don’t always garner results.
One great way to calm your fears and help you navigate the new waters is to elicit the help of a marketing student. Contact the local junior college or university marketing department and ask if there are students available to assist your company with a social media strategy. Many colleges have internship courses that will make it so the student will get college credits for helping your company. These students are often more than happy to teach you the ropes and build their portfolio of work.
Or just turn to the trusty Google!
4. It won’t pay off
Hopefully the data from the Social Media Marketing Industry Report has convinced that you that the small time and financial investment that you put into social media will pay off. If you aren’t fully convinced, then perhaps a social media “trial” is in order. Try out a social media strategy for one quarter to see if your business gets positive results for your effort.
This is a small commitment that may really pay off.
5. It will cause me to lose clients
There is always the fear of losing new clients when you try a new strategy. You fear that people will find your activity unprofessional or a waste of their resources. You may be surprised to learn that people now expect businesses to be involved in social media.
According to the 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study, nearly all (93 percent) of consumers who participate in social media think a company should be represented through social media. Not only that, but they also expect businesses to interact with them through social media. And, more than half say they have a stronger connection with those businesses that they are able to interact with through social media.
6. I will say or do something wrong
Just as with more traditional forms of communication, it is almost guaranteed that you will have a typo at some point in your social media venture. The good thing is that you do have the ability to review and edit much of your social media content.
One way to limit your number of social media faux pas is by conducting a vigorous review process prior to publishing content online. Take the time to read and re-read your posts before they are published. If possible, enlist a friend or trusted colleague to review your work, too, to help catch any errors that would otherwise slip through the crack.
Good luck and hopefully I will see you online!