There is an undeniable truth to all business situations. This is typically referred to in project management, but true in all things you do. You are constrained by three factors:
These three factors are interdependent on each other in every business situation. If we have unlimited money, we can afford to put all the time in the world towards the highest quality work. If money is limited, we must scale back on our dream advertising campaign, and invest more time to make it happen. Each factor has a give and take to it that affect the other two. Essentially, you get to pick two of these elements.
It is for this reason that social media is most likely the absolute last marketing tactic that a small business owner should pursue.
Wait, doesn’t that contradict EVERY social media marketing blog that touts the wonders of the free marketing which are Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, etc? Yes it does. The difference is, I’m not trying to sell you anything. This isn’t to say that proper use of Facebook can’t be beneficial to a business, but the real return can most often be ridiculously low.
Small business owners are often short on time. They have a business to run, books to keep, employees to supervise, and quite frequently a second job to pay the bills. Time is a luxury they are not given.
Social media requires a great amount of time to adequately manage. To really make it pay off, much time must be spent planning, communicating, listening, and getting to know how to effectively communicate. This is a luxury afforded by very few people trying to keep a business running.
So, do you pay someone to handle social media for you? Here’s a slippery slope. An expert can provide a great deal of value to your business, and paying for marketing help is a necessity for small businesses. But we go back to the issue of time. Social media takes time. Someone else’s time costs money. More often than not, the amount of time it takes a decent consultant to execute a decent social media campaign is still quite a bit of money. Could that marketing help put the same time into other activities that have a greater capacity to drive business? Almost always. This isn’t to say that an effective social media campaign can’t drive business, but the time to do it right will often exceed the budget of the business. Which comes down to…
Is it better to do some marketing than none at all? Absolutely! As I said before, every small business needs to devote time and money to marketing. EVERY SMALL BUSINESS. No, you are not an exception. Not all marketing looks like billboards and Twitter accounts, but every business needs to do something. But the reality is that very few businesses will have any success from just social media alone.
So given those factors, should you really worry whether your gas station has a Facebook page? It’s time to ask for real help. Social media is not a new customer acquisition method, and it is not free. The costs of time, and quality far outweigh the alleged money that is being saved.