By @TheMarkDalton

If you run a business and you are dabbling in social media marketing tactics then this is one post you are going to want to pay special attention to. We are reaching a difficult point when it comes to social media marketing at the moment in relation to the cost. Because we can go and set up social media accounts for free and use the platforms for no cost, it means that many businesses – especially smaller ones – expect their social media marketing to be free exposure, right?

Wrong! Social media may be free, social media marketing is not and that is something that business owners need to understand. We are not running a personal page here, we are looking to build a business. Over the past week I have spoken to 5 different small businesses who have complained that they never expected to pay for social media promotion, 3 of the 5 businesses said they felt they should not have to pay to reach customers. I am not going to put businesses on blast by posting the screencaps of their Facebook rants, however a number of important points do need to be made.

If you were lucky enough to take advantage of the organic reach social media platforms offered a number of years ago then well done to you. However, for those who are only joining the online party now I am sorry to tell you that you are going to have to dig into your pockets if you want to maximise your reach on social.

A number of these business owners complained to me that Facebook is “hiding their posts” which is not really true. Your posts are there but they are not necessarily being seen by everyone who likes your page if you are only trying to grow organically. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone either. Back in November 2014, Facebook announced to business owners that this was going to happen.

Facebook said that their algorithm was going to be changed to minimise the number of consumers who see organic posts from brands and businesses in comparison to showing the number of posts which businesses pay to boost in timelines. As Facebook was getting more competitive, they announced that paid ads would rank higher in the news feed than organic content. Does that really surprise you? Of course paid ads will outrank your organic posts, that makes perfect sense and that is the way it should be. That is how advertising works.

Facebook is not hiding your posts from sight, you are simply being outranked by paid ads. If you run a targeted ad campaign tomorrow on Facebook I can guarantee you will see a big difference on your page.

Some business owners think that social media gives them unlimited free advertising with no cost at all. Advertising, whether you like it or not, is not free. TV ads, Radio ads, billboards, print ads, flyers ect. They all cost money, and your social media marketing is going to cost you money too.

You need to make the investment to see the return. One business owner recently told me that she had stopped using her business Facebook page because she felt there was little value because Facebook was “penalising her for not showing her ‘free posts’ to every single person following her page.” People make claims like this without realising that Facebook’s ad model is the best ROI that exists at the moment. What you can do with targeted Facebook ads right now gives you unlimited potential.

Some people don’t want to invest, they want to see the fruits of using platforms at no cost whatsoever. So how do you start winning the battle? How do you start getting your business in front of more eyes? What advice would I give these business owners?

1. Start producing great content. Content is king and before you start spending any money on your social media marketing you need to be pumping out content on a daily basis. I’m not talking streams of content every day but you need to consider doing something daily. If you neglect your page and only update it once in a while then you are going to really struggle establishing an online identity

2. Start using Facebook targeted ads. You don’t need to start advertising on every single platform that you are on. Make the investment in Facebook ads if you only want to pay a minimal amount of money that you can get away with. As I mention above, it is the best ROI available at the moment.

3. Get over the mindset that social media marketing is free. If you want to see a return on your social media marketing efforts then you need to be prepared to spend money to see that return whether that is paying someone to help you out, pay for training, pay for a seminar, pay for your ads. Be prepared to pay.

4. Budget for advertising and marketing!

When business owners ask me, “do I really need social media?” I tell them the simple truth…”No.” You are perfectly capable of starting and building a business without using social platforms. It will be tough though in the current market, the simple fact now is that customers like reaching out on social these days. It is easy, fast and takes place on the customers time.

Even more difficult is the fact that while you don’t need to have social media, not using it and not establishing an online presence is basically leaving money on the table. But no, social media is not a necessity of business however with the way business and consumer interactions is currently progressing you are going to find it hard without social media tools.

You may read this and say to yourself and others, “You know what, I don’t need to pay for Facebook ads, I can still use social media for my business for free – I’m just going to work really hard at it.” or you may read this and say, “You know I still don’t get it, why do I need to pay for ads on Facebook? I am only a small business!”

You are more than welcome to do that, you are more than welcome to stay organic and not pay a penny for any of your social media efforts for your business. Just keep in mind, your reach is going to be extremely limited. Please don’t come complaining to me that your Facebook posts from your business page are not reaching everyone when you don’t pay a cent towards promoting what you are doing.

If you still don’t understand why you should be paying for ads on social media then you need to either employ someone who gets it and can do it for you or you need to learn more about advertising and marketing as a business owner.

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