Social media is considered a must for most businesses in 2014. Why, then, do many local affiliates -- franchisees, agents and dealers -- shy away from the low cost and far-reaching tools of digital advertising?
Apparently, the No. 1 reason local affiliates avoid digital marketing and social media is because they believe the tactics are too complicated, according to a new survey by local marketing automation platform BrandMuscle.
Only 63 percent of the 208 respondents have a Facebook page for their business, and a mere 43 percent use a Twitter account. However, those who do use social media appear to be more pleased with their results than those who use traditional media: 71 percent of the local affiliates using Facebook and 61 percent using Twitter said they are either somewhat or highly satisfied.
While cost was the top reason affiliates provided for avoiding most forms of advertising, including newspaper ads, billboards and coupons, money wasn't a major factor in social media. Instead, around 60 percent of those who didn't use Facebook or Twitter said it was due to their complexity.
Using traditional media, small businesses can pay for an advertisement in the newspaper and then forget about it. Meanwhile, Twitter and Facebook accounts necessitate set up and constant upkeep. Many franchisees and agents aren't prepared to invest the necessary time and energy, even if the account could prove to be a highly valuable marketing tool.
“Consumers are shifting the way they make purchases with some reports estimating that as many as 80 percent begin their search for products and services online,” Clarke Smith, chief strategy officer for BrandMuscle, said in a statement. “Marketers are in a unique position to help their local affiliates make the journey to online marketing, which when executed correctly can be both cost-effective and measurable -- two key considerations when attempting to maximize the ROI of smaller budgets.”
Local affiliates' links to larger brands should give them a unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more from others who have already uncovered best practices. As social media becomes an essential form of advertising, ensuring that local franchisees and dealers are provided a background in online marketing is the corporate brand's responsibility. With proper instruction comes increased sales – without making a significant dent in the advertising budget.
More From Entrepreneur