There are many benefits of social media for small businesses, and if done right you can do it cost effectively and still gain traction. The CEO of the world’s most popular brand Coca Cola said that just 5 years ago social media “was 3% of our total media spend. Today’s its more than 20% and growing fast.” The benefits of social media is so important to Coca Cola and its nearly 40 million Facebook fans.
“The value is you can talk with them. They tell you things that are important for your business and brands,” Kent commented.
If Coca Cola is spending 20%+ and growing with social media, how much should a small business spend – and how does the business begin the effort?
What Does a Good Campaign Look Like?
First look to best practices used by other smaller businesses. An example of a well run and cost effective social media campaign is that of Heacock Classic. Heacock provides insurance for collector car owners and now commands a strong voice for its company on Facebook.
Eight months ago Heacock reallocated approximately $2,000 a month of its marketing budget to social media. Today the fan page boasts 37,000+ fans that own collector cars that are engaged with Heacock. The company makes social media fun and encourages fans to upload photos of their cars, while at the same time running specific targeted Facebook ads seeking new prospects who own collector cars. And while the customers are uploading their photo, they are also offered an opportunity for a new insurance quote – an excellent example of how to subtly encourage new business while also keeping the fan page fun and exciting.
How to Grow a Fanpage
So how much does it typically cost to grow a fanpage?
First businesses should exhaust their low hanging fruit – email existing customers and your center of influence to announce your new Facebook page. Then determine the type of fans you’re seeking to grow – and what your message is — and begin targeted advertising using Facebook ads.
A rule of thumb many social media consultants have used when estimating a budget for fan growth is “a buck a fan.” But this cost is increasing as more businesses are coming online and Facebook advertising is becoming more popular.
In general the cost per click for a national audience would be lower than an ad targeting a college educated 50 year old woman in a specific zip code. But the ad itself is the most important in determine the ad cost – Facebook will charge an advertiser less if there is a higher click through rate on the ad.
Thus the advertising image, its headline, and its call to action all combine to produce an average price per click. Typically this average hovers around $1 to $2 but a well managed campaign could be a fraction of that cost.
Keep the Momentum Up
Now that your business has fans, what is it going to communicate? Daily engagement is key, and many businesses are now looking to outsource this task. Why is outsourcing so popular? Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to determine who sees your posts. Having professional management could get your company’s post noticed by more fans for a longer duration, helping you achieve a better return on your investment and saving you valuable time.
Develop Your Strategy
The next step is developing a social media strategy – why are you using social media and is Facebook only for the business-to-consumer niche?
A lot depends on whether the other businesses are easily found on Facebook – and in some instances they are. For example, Monin , which makes flavored beverage syrups, developed a strategy to engage coffeehouse baristas – since many of them make the purchasing decisions on flavoring companies. This business-to-business play is showing great success for the company – after all, Facebook can easily identify baristas, and now Monin can communicate with them every day to give Monin feedback on its latest flavoring concoctions.
More than Profit
And while social media also offers an opportunity for more than increased profit – it can also help save lives.
Richard Gonzmart , the 4th generation owner of the 100-year-old Columbia Restaurant Group in Florida , doesn’t advertise in the traditional sense. – you won’t find his popular restaurants in a newspaper. The strong affinity for his famed Spanish restaurants brings a steady stream of clients – but Gonzmart is passionate about giving back to the community, and that led him to social media.
He’s using social media to raise awareness for his charitable interests and community involvement. When new restaurant goers check in on Facebook, he hopes they see his involvement with the Moffitt Cancer Center or “Richard’s Run For Life.” When they comment on a wonderful meal, he wants to remind them up the upcoming “Andrea’s Sip for Life” wine tasting event.
Gonzmart knows that the virility of social media allows more people to help him raise awareness and funding for cancer research. He now hopes that his customers not only click and share the message of his giving on their own Facebook wall, but also give of themselves, too.
And that is a return on investment that is beyond measure.
About the Author: Chris McLaughlin is the CEO of Maximize Social Media LLC, a provider of social media management solutions for businesses. Heacock Classic, Monin, and the Columbia Restaurant Group, are all clients of Maximize. With offices in Los Angeles and Florida, the Maximize team provides done-for-you social media engagement services as well as Facebook ad management. Chris invites you to contact him at chris.mclaughlin@