DIY social media marketing: Can you, and should you?

Sam McKeith

It’s a given. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need to engage their target audiences on social media.

That’s because Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a growing number of other online channels are an increasingly critical part of the contemporary media landscape.  

However the big question remains – do you fork out thousands of dollars to an agency or take a do-it-yourself approach and hope for the best?

Social media expert Laurel Papworth backs SMEs’ ability to market themselves socially – so long as they’re comfortable with the idea.

“If you’re the strong silent type and you don’t like Twitter and it’s really not something that you’re attracted to … then you might want to outsource it,” she says.

“You don’t have to be the most polished communicator in the world but at the end of the day you do have to be comfortable communicating.”

For bosses reluctant to spruik on social media but still keen to avoid high agency costs, Papworth advocates delegating responsibility in-house.

“You might want to outsource it to someone who’s more voluble in your group like a marketing person if there’s one helping you, or even a partner at home,” she says.

“If you’re the strong silent type and you don’t like Twitter and it’s really not something that you’re attracted to … then you might want to outsource it.”
 

Alternatively, she says there are many enthusiastic young contractors with social media skills, but without the agency price tag.

While outsourcing can have good results, she says in her experience the best SMEs “do their own social media”.

“That’s because it’s very hard to outsource your knowledge your passion and your commitment,” Papworth adds.

“If you feel like you’re outsourcing to someone who’s your best asset then do it, but if not, don’t.”

For SMEs keen to market themselves, but with limited resources, there are a few simple tips.

The first, Papworth says, is to use a social media channel you enjoy.

“For a small business they can afford to choose a channel that they enjoy and like, and stick with it.

“One of things we do know about return on investment on social media is the more time you’re on it, the better the returns are.

“If you love Pinterest go for Pinterest … you can build your customer base, tell them where you are and at the same time dabble in others, say Snapchat or Vine.”

The best time to be pushing your message on social media is in the evening, usually between 8 to 9pm, she says.

She says another key is to follow your customers to where they are on social media.

“If you’re an accountant you’re kind of stuck with LinkedIn. Pinterest and Instagram are probably not going to work,” she says.

“You do need to find out where you customers are.”

She also urges SMEs to get out of a “nine-to-five” mindset when it comes to activating their social media campaigns.

The best time to be pushing your message on social media is in the evening, usually between 8 to 9pm, she says.

“Most of your customers are online at that time of night so either use a scheduling tool or check in at that time, and post then.”

Papworth’s final tip is simple – don’t forget about directing social traffic to your own website.

“You always need a hub, your own site, never hand everything over to Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.”

Sam McKeith

Sam McKeith is Sydney-based media professional. He has contributed to many leading publications including The Huffington Post, The Australian Financial Review, The Australian and BRW Magazine. He was previously a senior reporter at the Australian Associated Press where he covered national affairs.

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