Should small businesses engage in social media campaigns?

A couple of weeks ago I went to an interesting presentation by Paul Jackson from PJAUK, attended by small business owners and marketing people from the Richmond area.

I was especially interested to find out what kind of elements of online marketing are important to small businesses, because my experience up to that point had lied with bigger organisations. I’d worked in the publishing industry for over ten years, and the last few weeks provided first exposure to a brand new section of business.

Coca cola canOne interesting anecdote Paul told was about the failed Pepsi campaign on social media a couple of years ago.  Pepsi had invested millions in social-responsibility campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, at the expense of traditional media such as TV ads. Although Pepsi managed to get millions of social media conversions, the product sold 5%-6% less than in the previous year, and Pepsi Cola went from being the number 2 cola drink (after Coke), to number 3 (after Diet Coke). People resigned. Dreams shuttered. In media and digital circles the whole thing was branded as a mammoth failure.

Paul rightly used this example to emphasise that not every online marketing trend suits every business or every product, at every turn.

But how can you tell when social media engagement would be beneficial and when it might hurt you? how can you tell if you should invest precious hours every week in tweeting or commenting on Fashion forums, blogging and instagramming? should you not put these precious hours into something that will reap more tangible benefits like sending out a one-day sale email to your most loyal customers, or improve your web content and user-experience to increase web conversions?

I bet every person in the world will have an opinion on this.

Social Marketing – does it work for all businesses? should all businesses engage in it? when it fails, why does it fail? is it because of lack of adequate engagement, or too much engagement?

…She said as she tweeted a link to her latest blog post.

Well, I’m putting my eggs in as many baskets as possible! (hmmm that sounds kind of wrong, but you get my drift).


First published July 8, 2013

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