How to Convince the Small Business Owner they Need a Social Media Strategy

Yesterday was a big networking day for me.  I started my day early as a guest at a Business Breakfast Club meeting and I ended it late with another networking function of the Small Business Association of Canada.  I left both meetings feeling good about the new connections I made but a bit baffled that the overwhelming response when I told people what I do was “Oh, social media, I don’t know much about that.”  Now I may be biased as a social media consultant but in this day and age, it is still hard for me to understand why most small businesses have little or no online presence.  So, being the excellent content curator that I am, I came home to do a bit of research on why this is.  Here is what I found out.  While there are a variety of reasons why small businesses do not use social media as part of their marketing strategy, here are a few of the main ones:

  • Fear
  • Lack of experience with social platforms
  • An unwillingness to be transparent
  • Fear of time commitment
  • Fear of not having anything to say
  • Fear of the lack of control

Notice the theme here? People are scared.  I do believe that most small business owners are aware that they do need a social media strategy but are really unsure of how to go about doing it.  This is unfortunate, of course, because small businesses can be social media’s best clients.  And while I want to tell clients that their fears are unjustified, I really can’t. It is hard to enter the social media realm and you certainly can’t do it with a half-baked strategy.  If you’re going to do it, you need do it right.

So how, as a social media consultant, can I convince new clients that they actually can jump on the social media bandwagon painlessly? The biggest hurdles to overcome are trying to counter their fear with the knowledge that any social media plan will increase their reach, visibility and engagement with their customers.  I try to outline as clearly as possible the steps that they need to take in creating a social media strategy, measured with what they feel they are ready to do and come to a compromise about what to actually implement.  No matter what the returns, the biggest hurdle in trying to convince a business owner to use social media is reassuring their fears.

I guess that’s where my place comes in as a social media consultant.  Trying to guide the small business owner through the creation and implementation of a social media strategy that they feel comfortable with and that they can handle.  Offering them ongoing hands-on coaching and tutorials on how to use the social media platforms they should be using and offering them someone to turn to when they need help managing their strategy.  So, that being said, I’ll continue my quest to convince the small business owner that social media really can help them engage with their customers, drive customer loyalty and turn loyal customers into little advertising machines.  And while social media isn’t really isn’t as painful as you think, I will be there to hold your hand if you stumble.

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