Same game, different rules

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Social media for small, local businesses is a bit like baseball.

If you were to go to a major league, high school, or little league, you'd be able to say without a doubt what game they're playing. For the most part, the rules are the same, the players stand in the same places, they use the same kinds of equipment.

But there are important differences: fields are different sizes, bats might be wood or they might be metal, the number of innings changes from league to league.

One of the differences between a small, local business and a large corporation on social is the amount they spend on advertising. Social media, especially for businesses, is now "pay to play" and the days of organically growing a large following without putting any money behind growing that following are gone.

Large businesses can win pay-to-play by sheer budget size: hire an expensive team, put a lot of money behind an ad, and people will bite. But many local businesses don't put ANY money towards social advertising, or if they do, it's a relatively small amount. Whether its a hard budget constraint or preference, small ad spends force the rules to change for these businesses and their marketing efforts on social media because money isn't propelling posts and ads through the algorithms.

This means that local businesses need to develop relationships with customers and potential customers on social media that goes beyond social media. Quality and quantity of content becomes critical, and specifically content that engages, fosters human and meaningful interaction, and builds reputation.

Partnering with other businesses and organizations is crucial to connect with their following and networks. Personality, care, expertise, and accessibility win.

A low ad spend also typically means that social media marketing is a long game. Throw $10k behind an ad or two and a local business would be able to reach just about everyone that could potentially be a customer.

But that's not feasible for many of these businesses, and even if it were, it wouldn't be something able to be repeated consistently over time.

The rules are different, and that's why small, local businesses looking to build a brand and create a following need to double-down on being human with social feeds that are human, professional, consistent, and engaging over a long period of time. #fullsteamsocial