By Andrea De La Cerda

I have had the privilege to speak to hundreds of small business owners about content marketing: what makes content valuable and “shareable,” how do you present your corporation in a way that is engaging and fun? But these new rules go against everything we have ever been taught about the business of advertising. I am often pulled aside after my presentations and told, “I understand that it has worked for you, but it just isn’t in my nature to be open and honest about my business”, or “I am in a very niche B2B industry. I just don’t see these techniques working for a business like mine.” Do these comments resonate with you at all?

If so, consider that these lies you tell yourself about how social media ought to operate in your sphere of business is just what might be holding you back from real results.

1) I have a B2B business so the social media “rules” don’t apply to me.

I was just told last week that only businesses like fashion and retail can be creative about the ways they use social media to bring in business. Umm…wrong! ┬áConsider these examples.

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2) We are not comfortable putting too much information about our business on social pages.

I understand. But you had better hope that you competitors aren’t either. The fact is that being open with your audience builds trust. Trust brings in customers for life. Sometimes simply bringing in humor can show a side of your business that people love to see. Or just offer a little free advice from time to time. Free ebooks and slideshares loaded with helpful information for B2B’s can go a long way in building trust. If the fear is based in what your competitors could find out about your business…I would also consider the opportunity you hand over to them if you’re not actively building a network of fans.

3) Until social media begins to show real results to our company’s bottom line, we just can’t put additional resources behind it.

This is one we hear a lot! And as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Most successful business owners understand that investment is required for any great return. The same goes for social media. Can it grow your business? Yes. Can it bring in new leads and sales? Absolutely. I think an important first determination to make is how is this investment going to be tracked? How will you know after a set period of time if the investment paid off? I would suggest allowing at least 6 months. The graphic below breaks down a quick explanation of how you can prove whether or not social media is working for you.

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4) If we start a social media strategy, the work would have to be done by me and I just don’t have the time.

This is a very common concern. We hear this a lot and we experience it in our own business too. Starting a social media strategy is partly a change in mindset and routine. (i.e. that 30 minutes you used to spend perusing blogs and news articles may now need to be 30 minutes you spend writing and creating). But if that still isn’t possible, know that there is help out there. How big or small of an investment are you willing to make in the process and what successful benchmarks do you need to see to ensure success? Once you’ve laid out a plan, don’t hesitate to find help if you need it.

Businesses can no longer afford to make these mistakes or they will quickly see their competitors creep in and take advantage of open opportunities online.

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