Social media messes with your head. There I said it. And this head-messing is exacerbated when you spend too much time worrying about what others are doing.
There’s no denying social media can deliver many positives to small business, such as increased brand awareness, credibility, a sense of community, a new audience and the holy grail, increased sales and revenue. But, on the flip side, and there’s always a flip side, social media can have a massive negative impact on small business, in particular, on small business owners. The good news is this negativity can be controlled – you just need to stop comparing your social media marketing against other businesses.
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, everyone does it, and this behaviour crosses over into social media. We look around and see one business over there with so many followers and we feel rubbish, until we look the other way and see another brand with 50 followers and suddenly we perk up – hey we’re not doing too bad after all – without realising the brand with 50 followers may actually be doing better. This type of arms length comparison is dangerous behaviour though, that will eventually lead to you taking your eye off your own social media ball and failing for real.
4 reasons you should stop comparing your social media marketing
1. You don’t know what their strategy is
Do you really know what their business and, therefore, social media strategy is? Really? The social media strategy of the business down the road may be to appeal to a new target audience, and it looks like they are killing it with their 30,000 followers, but scratch the surface and look into their insights and 75% of their followers sit outside the target market they are trying to recruit – all of a sudden they are not as successful as they seem. So before you compare yourself, the first thing you need to think about is whether or not you understand what their strategy really is?
Tip: Stay focused on your own strategy. It can’t be stressed enough – the first step to social media success is to have a strategy. This strategy must align with your overall business and marketing strategy. If you don’t have this in place you will fail – period.
2. You don’t know what resources they have
Do they have a team working on their social media or are they doing it alone? As a small business owner, more often than not the buck stops with you and just keeping the doors open can be hard enough, so when you get to the end of the day, the last thing you feel like doing is scheduling social media activity for the upcoming week. You ask yourself, ‘why do I find it so hard when posts from the business down the road pop up with frightening regularity on my feed?’ Don’t fall into this trap, there could be any number of reasons for this – maybe they have taken time to develop a content plan which keeps them on track, they have someone doing it for them, they are using scheduling apps or they have chosen to sacrifice their Sunday afternoon’s to do it.
Tip: You only get out of social media what you put in, therefore, treat social media like any other key function of your marketing and allocated time and effort to it. You control social media, it shouldn’t control you. Look into developing a weekly or monthly content plan to keep you on track and download a social media management app such as Hootsuite or Buffer that will allow you to bulk schedule your activity. If it really is too much for you, then assess what value social media could drive to your business and get someone to do the tactical stuff for you – just stay involved and guide the strategy.
3. You don’t know what budget they have
Little do you know, your competitors may be investing some serious dollars for content that will help them reach their strategic goals, or build their follower base. Just because you aren’t doesn’t mean no one else is. Social media is still free to use, but if you are a business, the free ride that will take you places stopped running a while ago. Organic reach is becoming much harder to achieve, and what you think is fantastic content or an amazing offer may only reach a handful of your followers. Arghhh! The reason for this is social media platforms are running a business too and to keep platforms free for your followers, they need to make money from the commercially focussed business accounts -and that’s you.
Tip: As with the above tip, treat social media like any other key function of your marketing and give it a budget. It may only be small, but if you use it strategically, it can deliver great returns.
4. You don’t know their background
I have personally been guilty of this, constantly weighing up my activity against other marketing consultants on social media, until I dig deeper into their profiles and find out they used to work at Twitter or have a side business in public speaking. Right.. Take a step back and assess the person behind the business. Did they come to their small business from a stellar corporate career that has given them skills and a network you could only dream about? Are they naturally creative or tech savvy?
Tip: Invest time in learning the skills to up your social media ante. Understand how to read platform analytics, learn how to create great images and what makes a great headline for your posts. No one was born knowing how to implement effective social media marketing for small business, not even Gen Z’s. And, like all marketing, it’s about knowing your audience and how to communicate with them in a relevant manner.
Whilst it’s important to keep across what other in your industry are doing, don’t obsess on it at the cost of your own successes. Be aware of what’s going on but remember, it’s more important to stay focused on your own social media marketing and invest in making it perform better.