Social media challenges for small businesses

By Chris Bennett Sep 29 2019

The first step in many of these ‘Easy’ Guides, is to set social media marketing goals to measure your performance against. Individuals and business owners might be relatively or completely new to online networks, particularly in the realm of marketing.

It’s quite tricky to set goals when you’re unsure of the capabilities of social media. Hence why this is just one of the many challenges that can discourage small, local businesses from utilising the massive opportunities available through social networking.


Will it be profitable?

Finding the time, budget and resources for social media is a struggle in itself, and that’s before even considering how to track whether it’s generating revenue. Despite being cheaper than traditional marketing methods (such as TV, newspapers and magazines) there is no guarantee you will achieve a return on investment, unless your campaign is successful and you can effectively reach your target audience.

To evaluate profitability you need to have the necessary skills in analytics to see whether sales have come directly from social media. To help with this, there are social media management tools such as Sprout Social. These tools provide a single interface for managing multiple social media platforms, and can generate reports about which campaigns are successful or not. At Pyrolane, we use a tagging system combined with advanced URL tracking, pixel tracking and Google Analytics to capture the data needed to clearly demonstrate social ROI.

We’re a Sprout Social Agency Partner, which means we’re certified to get the most out of the platform to help your business grow, as well as having access to the advanced enterprise features.

Woman holding out lots of cash notes
To evaluate profitability you need to have the necessary skills in analytics.

Which platforms should I use?

After deciding what you want to achieve through social media, you’re then faced with the challenge of choosing the right platform to meet your objectives and target audience. There are several considerations when choosing which and how many platforms to use.

This is where putting the time into researching your audience can be invaluable. It’s important to find out which platforms your audience are actively using and what they are saying on them.

Some platforms will be highly relevant for your business and others might not. If you don’t do the research, you might end up investing in a platform which was never really going to be very effective for you anyway, wasting precious time and resources. Once you have found where you audience are and what content they want, then you can invest accordingly.


Do I need expertise?

Huge quantities of data and information are being posted on social media every single second. This can be used for market research on customers, competitors and field experts. With the right strategy, it’s possible to find out valuable insights such as your customers’ interests, who they are following and what your competitors are doing. However, without knowing how to utilise this vast resource to grow your business, it can become more of a hindrance. Due to the overwhelming amounts of data, a lot of small businesses will struggle to use it to their advantage. 

Similarly, to ensure real growth and a return on investment from social media, a high level of skill and experience is required - just like anything else in life. A successful approach to social media requires significant experience in strategic planning, especially as you’ll need to plan for the long term to see your results grow and improve over time.

Implementing these strategies requires technical knowledge of many different platforms and processes (to give an example, we use over 30 different technologies in our delivery pipeline). You’ll need to be an expert in content production, digital design, data analysis, ad management, and many more. These skills takes years and years to develop and without them it can be difficult to stand out from your competitors and reach your audience in the best way possible.

Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.

David Alston

What should I be posting?

Aside from the challenges brought by the actual functionality and technical capabilities of social media, there is also the large obstacle of what to post, and in what medium. In a nutshell, posts need to be engaging, of a suitable length, and relevant to your business and the customer. The research and expertise mentioned above helps you figure out what they might want.

Posting needs to be consistent; an overriding plan with the time of day and frequencies for each platform works well here. At Pyrolane Social, we’ll put together a robust and exciting editorial calendar for your business which will drive the growth of your brand.

The necessity to regularly produce original content can be time-consuming and expensive. The quality of the actual content requires creativity and a strong brand voice. It’s important to stay up to date with social media platforms, including what’s trending and the methods businesses are using for their content marketing.

Social media is a great resource for organic targeted marketing to different demographics of your target audience by using different platforms, however, this strategy requires field expertise and know-how of social media. 

For example, a financial advice company may know that some of their customers are retirees looking for information about pensions, and another proportion is young professionals wanting to invest in stocks and shares. A dedicated blog post or email-newsletter would work well for pension information, whereas Twitter would work for investment statistics and advice. With the right knowledge and skills, you can engage with your customers and become a valuable source of information for them. You can go even further and link these marketing approaches together to create sales and lead funnels to further drive your growth as well as giving your audience a more complete digital experience.

Crowd at shopping centre
Social media is a great resource for organic targeted marketing to different demographics

How should I use social media?

Social media can be used in many ways to enhance your business offering. You could use it as an effective tool to drive more traffic to your business website, or even as a way to deliver customer support. Within your social media objectives it should be clear what needs to be achieved – are you trying to increase customers visiting your website or physical store, or do you want to make sales directly through social media? How will you handle customers who complain on social media? How do you leverage happy customers leaving 5-star reviews on Facebook to grow your business further? How do you increase brand awareness? All these examples require a holistic approach to brand image and an online presence so that customers know where to find you and how to recognise your business.


Is it worth it?

Unless you have enough time and resources to dedicate to building and growing a social media presence - as well as the skills and experience to grow it into a powerful asset for your business - it can be difficult to see meaningful results. Like anything in business, the time and commitment put into it makes all the difference.

After creating the content and scheduling posts, engagement should be monitored and evaluated against past posts and key performance indicators. It’s an iterative process of researching, creating and monitoring. Larger companies will have a dedicated social media expert, and often an entire team and huge budgets to throw at different social strategies.

You don’t have to be an expert or have a large budget to get started, but it’s always more effective to get it done right. If you’re ready to grow your business, then consider social media as an exciting and powerful way to drive sales, improve brand awareness and keep your customers happy.

Outsourcing your social media marketing to an external agency, such as Pyrolane Social, can guarantee a high-quality service for a much lower cost than an in-house team. For small and medium-sized businesses, the cost of buying the software required to deliver your social management combined with paying the salary of an experienced social professional can far outstrip the fees we charge.

Get in touch today and let’s see if we can work together. We can always run a free social media audit for you anyway and give you some pointers on where to get started if you want to go it alone.


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