A few may say it's worth it. However, many are hesitant.
Having spoken to many of my clients about the ways and benefits of social media marketing, I have come to realize many of them have this built in fear/uncertainty in them. Mainly the fear of throwing the cash in and not seeing any returns. Only one or two who understand and believe in this industry are willing to give it a try.
There are tons and tons of articles talking about the returns of Social Media Marketing. However, there are still many Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who knows about the social media channel but are fearful of investing in this not-so-new-anymore channel of marketing. Early adopters in the world have already cashed in on the Social Media sphere, so, what is holding these SMEs back? According to Gianluca's (from www.iloveseo.net) interview with Ian Lurie (from www.portent.com), Ian mentioned:
"The biggest problem now is one of expectations. Half of businesses are completely distrusting of all things internet. The other half believes a web site entitles them to overnight success. It’s not really about ‘bad students’ so much as folks figuring out there’s nothing magical about the internet. It’s marketing: Money and creativity goes in. If you do it right, more money and loyalty comes out."
Some companies make the mistake of thinking that paying an intern $5 an hour to handle their social media will be sufficient. This is not the case, and in fact, an inexperienced intern can potentially damage your brand.
On the other hand, an experienced social media manager will match your brand’s voice and build campaigns with clear goals and they should be able to show you (in real numbers) how your social presence is helping your business.
Social media marketing requires blood, sweat and tears(it is a lot of work). If you have decided you want to do it all in-house, here are the traits to look for when hiring a social media manager. If you are still not sure to hire a social media marketing agency or hire someone full time in a house, it is important to know the pros and cons of both scenarios. In all honesty, either way, it is going to be a mix if you want to maximize your efforts. The only real motivation is that the full-service agency social media management model is significantly less work on your end.
Solution to SME: Set aside a bigger budget and outsource the job to a professional social media agency or consultants. Speak to a few agencies in your region. There are some agencies that provide different packages catered for different industries. Some of these packages may include services you do not need but the agency should be able to work out a more reasonable package for you.
Solution to Marketers: Convince your customers and show them your value. Yeah, it's like stating the obvious. But how? Don't be afraid to give free consultation and analysis to your customers. Highlight the problems on their existing social media channels/websites, suggest creative ideas and ways to improve on their current status. These customers need to see your value. Once they have seen the true value that you can bring to them, it is easier to close the deal. They may even recommend more deals to you.
What is the return I will get? How long does it take? Why do I have to wait so long to see results? Am I paying for fans only? Why aren't my fans sticky? How do I measure? These are some of the question marks in the SMEs' head. They are uncertain of the benefits they gained by engaging your services. Paying for social media marketing services is equivalent to paying for something intangible in their view.
Solution to SME: Judge based on the different case studies from the agency. The success stories don't lie. Also, analyse the agency's website. Their website should be clean, clear and concise. The agency should be able to explain the key metrics and indicators to you.
Solution to Marketers: Give a more precise milestone base on certain key metrics. What customers need are the sales figures. One of the most successful methods of convincing your customer is giving them a trial run. Show them the results. You can show them your track records(or recent works) and statistics. Let the data speak for itself. Convincing your customers to do what you propose is hard -- good luck. The best thing to do is to remind them that you know what you are talking about and give sound reasoning behind your decision to make a change. Reducing your customer's risk make them more willing to taking up the deal.
3. Lack of Transparency
This applies more to outsourcing. For the customers, the pitfall of engaging an external agency for social media marketing is not knowing how much time the agency is putting in on the project and what exactly is being done.
Solution to SME: Include your agency in the marketing process such as creating and approving marketing plan for a campaign. Your marketing objectives, target products, customer segments, distribution channels, a list of campaigns and expected results should be clearly listed out. By doing so you will have complete transparency, accountability and alignment into the planning process.
Solution to Marketers: Provide updates, be it bi-weekly or monthly, to your customer. More often than not all they need is assurance. Prepare a report or analytics that reflect milestones and objectives.
According to the Social Media Examiner's Industry report by Michael Stelzner, social media outsourcing has increased significantly in the past two years. And this year, the percentage rose yet again, with 32% of marketers said they are outsourcing social media marketing.
It is definitely not ridiculous to engage a social media marketer because there is a demand for it. Look at the amount of internet marketing firms and marketers on the web. There are so many experts/gurus out there who have been in the industry for so many years. They have tried umpteen methods, reaping success and revenues for countless companies. These are proven case studies and figures that have left a mark on the history of internet marketing.
I would say, it would be ridiculous of SMEs not leveraging on the social media world and they are missing out on a Ridiculously worthwhile market.
Whats your take on hiring a social media marketer? Would you spend time building one up or outsource to a professional?