Rethink DIY Marketing for Small Businesses — Positioning to Win Social Media Management

There’s an evolution in formation among SMBs, and it’s rapidly reaching critical mass. Over 2/3rd’s of small businesses now proclaim themselves to be DIY marketers, and Social Media Management represents the epicenter of this shift. Small businesses rate Social Media as the media in which they feel the most comfortable, and, SMM is projected to be the highest growth segment for Digital Marketing over the next four years, growing from $2.5B to $22B in annual spend in 2020.

Borrell Associates Digital Marketing Services Forecast, June 2016

It’s very common for the SMB industry to dismiss DIY as an undesirable market segment and view DIY a signal of low budget or lack of growth intention. However, we think this viewpoint fundamentally misses what’s unfolding. We need to shift our thinking on DIY based on “product function” not as a “market segment”.

It’s time to think of DIY as a critical function within Social Media Management for practically all SMBs — DIY defines a user role that is rapidly emerging. The more real-time social marketing becomes, the more fundamental DIY becomes to how SMM operates. There is no question that the consumer expectation on how a business should engage on social media continues to move toward being highly accessible and interactive.

As an analogy, look at how new home shopping evolved. 95% of the time, a consumer buys a home with the services of an agent, yet the consumer takes a very active role in the front-end of their process, assisted by tools designed specifically to empower them to search and become more informed buyers. It’s salient to recognize that as the online real estate market evolved, the market makers have been the vendors who control this DIY function, because it happens on the front line of the consumer’s shop/spend cycle. DIY tools set the relationship and engagement paths to the real revenue opportunity for the “downstream” services.

Digging deeper into the relevant roles of SMB versus agency is central to unpacking the story and understanding the opportunity of DIY Marketing and the single biggest revenue growth segment, Social Media Management [SMM].

Tasks and Functional Segments

Social Media Management is a broad category that combines multiple separable elements. For framing the opportunity, I like to separate SMM into four key interlocking components. I do tend to think of this list in building block components — quality of presence and customer engagement/live marketing set the optimal stage for maximum success with inbound and outbound promotional spending.

The largest spending segment will undoubtedly be on the bottom two quadrants. However, the top two components are foundational — they will have outsized impact on the spending effectiveness of inbound [content-centric] and outbound [ad/promotion-centric] marketing programs. Optimization of a SMB’s Social Presence is rapidly becoming equal in importance to website and search optimization, making it ripe for new products and services. If there’s one thing we’ve learned with both search optimization and website presence, it’s that getting the foundation right is just plain critical. Social will follow suit.

Live Marketing and Customer responsiveness represents the next generation from “Reputation Management” — executing best practices in customer engagement will improve the performance of the business in customer acquisition and social proof. As social marketing and messaging converge, the attention a business pays to Customer Engagement will have a critical impact on the quality of their social marketing and on the costs and effectiveness of content marketing and promotion.

Recast DIY as the Pivotal Entry Point for SMM

In our experience, business owners feel the least confident in advertising and struggle with the new world of inbound/content marketing and the most personally vested in the top right quadrant — where customer interaction is central. Social presence is DIY-centered by nature, since social and review websites require individual business action to claim and edit their profile pages.

We believe that DIY naturally centers on a new generation of Customer Engagement tools and experiences at the front line of the SMB relationship, coupled with best practice tools and guides to continually nurture a business’ social presence.

DIY tools can be transformative to capturing growth in Social Media Management. And, SMM is the single largest revenue growth opportunity in the SMB marketing and media space for the next five years. We advocate rethinking DIY as a critical component of a winning product/market approach to SMM.

Needless to say, our Perch product roadmap is highly aligned with this point-of-view! Stay tuned!