By now you’ve heard all the buzz about social media being an integral part of today’s marketing plans. You may even be congratulating yourself for starting Facebook and Twitter pages. But if you’re one of the 67 percent of small business owners who put their social media marketing in the hands of a novice, you could be doing your company more harm than good.

Social Media Marketing: Perception vs. Reality

The Advisory Board (TAB) provides peer-to-peer advisory boards and networking opportunities for more than 3,000 entrepreneurs around the world. In June 2016, TAB conducted a survey with members making up 54 percent of respondents and non-members making up the other 46 percent. Questions centered on use of social media, including online review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List.

While two-thirds of owners assign social media marketing to someone at a beginning or intermediate level, 59 percent are handling the job themselves, Jodie Shaw, chief marketing officer of TAB, points out that small business owners would be more likely to see the value in social media marketing by putting it in the hands of someone with knowledge and experience.

Unleashing the Power of Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for prospecting and relationship building. When you put someone in charge who is learning on the job, your social media marketing could end up hurting rather than helping your brand. Use these tips to leverage social media as an effective part of your marketing plan.

1. Have a well-thought-out strategy.

Individuals can just jump right in to social media, but that approach gets a business nowhere. What are your goals? Do you want to raise brand awareness, drive conversions or boost engagement? The answers will help you plan your program accordingly.


2. Don’t forget the “social” part.

Interaction is one of the major benefits of social media. Respond promptly to questions and comments, including negative ones, and post content designed to encourage engagement among your audience.

3. Selling is not your main objective.

Does that sound counterintuitive? Think about how tedious it is listening to someone who talks about himself all the time. Show genuine concern for your audience by providing content that’s interesting, informative and helps solve their problems.

4. Monitor your platforms on a regular basis.

Trying to follow all your social media platforms is like the circus performer who keeps all the plates spinning. Use an aggregate site such as HootSuite or RebelMouse to put everything in one easy-to-monitor place.

5. Establish and track metrics.

Would you launch any other marketing campaign without measuring ROI? Yet six percent of owners use “vanity” metrics like shares and likes to judge progress, while 43 percent don’t measure at all. Tracking metrics is the best way to evaluate and refine your social media program. Google Analytics offers a robust set of tools to track and interpret data.

Effective social media marketing shouldn’t take you away from valuable strategic and operational activities. Put your social media platforms in the hands of an expert and enjoy the benefits that follow.