Social media challenges for small brands

I have used social media since the days of Myspace, where you used HTML coding to create your own personal brand, and chose to embed the latest song that could be used to describe your middle school angst. (I was 13.)

I have been an eager adopter since then, but not with the intention to seek out the latest social technologies, but rather to follow along with my peers.

Social media is now a part of my career as a strategic communications professional, and I still make an effort to be “in the know.” But, when you are doing social media for business, you must not only consider what is “cool” at the time, but what is worth the time.

Social media provides a fantastic opportunity for brands to communicate with stakeholders. It is also an outlet for innovation and enforcing brand voice. My favorite example is Wendy’s on Twitter. This fast food chain used Twitter to create a brand persona that became a part of pop culture.

But, big brands seem to have an easier time coming up with a viable social media strategy for the shear fact that their consumer base has a wide range. I am sure the Wendy’s social media manager does not have to comb through tweets filtered by location, or have to scrounge around to make a group of followers that reflects their target audience. It is easier for them to go viral as a country-wide brand.

At Food Services, we take a similar voice to Wendy’s on social media. And, working in higher education means we know our target demographic (students) are on social, but we struggle to find everyone (and update for each incoming class) AND engage. But, it is worth it to build this targeted messaging platform because we need to engage with students where they are already having conversations.

Something smaller operations may also find challenging is justifying automation of the tasks it takes to have a rock-solid social media strategy. Hootsuite was a great, free scheduling software, but recently a new limit was imposed on how many posts can be scheduled at one time. For a business where a lot of social media posting is done in advance, this is detrimental. A product like Sprout Social is $99/month, which can be a hard investment for a business just getting started on social, or with a small, niche (but active) audience.

So, small businesses are left with the task of calculating ROI on something that could or could not be beneficial, but it is worth dipping a toe in the water and seeing where it goes.