According to social media trainer and speaker Laurel Papworth, these are the six most common reasons businesses give for not needing social media:

1. We already know our customers
2. We prefer to talk to our customers in person
3. We don’t need new customers
4. Customers only complain online
5. Our customers aren’t online
6. We prefer to advertise in magazines or on TV

For a few select businesses, yes, some of these may ring true, but for the majority, especially start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), social media should now play an important role in your marketing strategy.

If you believe any of these six statements apply to your business, continue reading to find out why they are not reasons to be avoiding social media.

1. We already know our customers 

You may know your customers but how well do you really know them and do you know when their opinions change? Did you know that a large group of them now do ALL their shopping online? Did you know there's a company offering a similar product to you down the road who advertises through Facebook and your customers are starting to move on?

If you don't keep up with these changes your customers, although you know may know them well now, may not be your customers for long. Social media is a great way to find out what your customers do when they're not buying from you and lets you remind them that you'll be there when they need you.

2. We prefer to talk to our customers in person 

Talking face-to-face is, and probably always will be, the most effective way of communicating. However, if your customers just have a quick question would it not be easier if they could hop on to Twitter and get a quick response? Would this not save you, and them, valuable time and money?

3. We don’t need new customers 

Right now perhaps you don't need new customers. A great position to be in, but what happens when your current customers decide to try out a new business similar to yours? Don't leave it until it's too late. Keep your audience engaged through social media, gain their trust and loyalty, and remind them that their life without your product/service would not be the same.

4. Customers only complain online 

There are a lot of customers who love to complain online. It's true and, unfortunately, a fact of life. But, as a small business, you can use this to your advantage. If something goes wrong and a customer complains, use this opportunity to show you care and that you are willing to put things right.

You can offer them a complimentary product/service and publicly apologise for the mistake. We are all human after all and generally, people just want to see that you are too. 

If your business gets a lot of complaints then, yes avoid social media for the time being because you clearly have other issues to deal with first!

5. Our customers aren’t online 

Are you sure? As I mentioned before, there may be a few select businesses where this is the case but for the majority of businesses, your customers are online in some form or another. In the UK alone over 80% of the population in all regions have used the Internet in the past three months. Social media allows businesses to reach these people in new ways with minimal costs compared to offline advertising.

6. We prefer to advertise in magazines or on TV 

Advertising on TV or in magazines may, of course, be your preference but is it the best way to reach your customers? If your customers are a young audience (16-25) you will find they are spending a lot less time watching TV/reading magazines and a lot more time on their mobile phones.

I am not saying avoid TV and magazines completely but make sure that's where your audience is before spending your entire marketing budget on an ad they won't see. Social media allows small businesses to market to a highly specific audience, especially when using Facebook ads, whilst keeping costs to a minimum compared with TV and print.

For small businesses social media really is a must. It is only at the beginning of its world takeover and is most definitely here to stay in one form or another. So don't miss out on opportunities by avoiding this major marketing tool.

 

By Katherine Heath, head of social media at (hug) London


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