It is not a waste of your time, you are just not doing it right. It is my mission to convince you that social media marketing is very, very valuable for business growth.
At So Fun Media (SFM), we spend a significant amount of time running Facebook platforms on behalf of our clients. Hopefully this isn’t a surprise, but all successful businesses, brands and celebrities hire social media experts to run their platforms. We also have spent an equal amount of time with many clients getting them to understand the value of Facebook for their business. The traditional metrics of leads and sales to measure marketing value usually do not work when it comes to social media marketing.
Instead, there are many tools we use to measure everything that happens as a result of digital advertising. From social media traffic referral to website visit behavior to lead generation, we can monitor, track and report on consumer behavior with greater authority and detail compared to traditional media referrals. Using these means we can report exactly what link brought the customer to your website, what day it was, how much time they spent on the website and which pages they visited before deciding to fill out your contact form. On Facebook, we can tell if someone who saw your advertisement two weeks ago decided to look up your company’s page and engage with its content. But, at the end of the day, many business owners still only care about leads. Social media will bring you leads, but it requires time, investment, people, appropriate metrics and intelligence to achieve success.
Social media is here to stay and at SFM we prove this value every single day for our clients. It is my goal and vision to help bring my trusted, successful, maybe-a-bit-old-school friends and colleagues into the fray. Social media can grow your business. You have to invest in it and you have to hire the right team to run it.
Let me explain it in another way …
Social media is like a party, conference or trade show that never ends. For the business-to-business or service industry, think of the value of being at a conference so you can be seen, meet new people and stay on the radar. For product businesses, think of the value of trade shows, in-store events, tasting and trial opportunities. ALL of these things can happen on Facebook with more velocity and a MUCH lower expense. While a single sales person may only connect with 20 or 30 people, we can connect with thousands every day through social media.
If you still aren’t there, it is important to consider the massive shift in consumer behavior and the way we buy and connect with brands. Mobile and tablet technology has created what is called the “connected consumer” (thank you Brian Solis). When we want something, we search for it on the internet. If we don’t like the price, we shop the competition instantly online. We learn about new products and services through our friends on social media channels. While this list goes on and on, it is important to embrace that traditional methods of referral, direct sales, in-store visits and online purchasing has drastically changed. Digital marketing must be integrated with offline pursuits, if you are still investing in that medium. It is a totally different way of connecting with your customers.
That statement will make my traditional marketing friends cringe. Yes, the job of marketing is still to bring the leads in the door and it is the job of sales to convert them, BUT social media is stepping in and taking the place of the first few stages of the sales cycle and for some products and services it can actually help close the sale, provide final stage support and customer service.
At SFM we are often brought in to help businesses that don’t believe there is value in social media, but want to explore how to make it work for their business. Your social media strategy has to match your overall business strategy. You cannot just post for the sake of posting; it is a waste of time and it will not deliver a return on your investment. Did you know that Facebook doesn’t even show all of your posts to all of your followers? You have to be calculated in everything you say and do. All social activity must work toward a common objective such as:
Social media will provide value for your business. I guarantee it. What you need to understand is it takes time, money and the right people. Facebook will not change your business overnight. Or even over a month. We have clients that see significant benefit in 45 to 60 days. These clients have very little competition on Facebook. Other clients require an investment of six months or more to build tangible benefit. Their products or service might be esoteric or in a highly competitive market.
I talk with CEOs all the time that don’t think there is value, or have decided to invest minimally, in social media as they aren’t sure it is a fit for their business. While I always appreciate caution, I also believe that if you aren’t thinking about it now and getting serious about integrating social media into your business, including support from the very top, you are going to be very, very late to the dance. You might have already missed the event. Your competitors are thinking about it, doing it and maybe taking it to the next level.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is have your college intern or new admin run all social for your business because “they understand it more.” Just because someone is ON social media, that does not mean they KNOW how to make it grow a business. Would you hire your bookkeeper to drive your sales because they see the numbers every month?
As a business leader, you know that understanding accounting is fundamental to running your business. You know that hiring the right sales talent is pivotal to growing sales. Marketing is the same thing. And marketing is NOT PR. Marketing can reach more people and faster when you hire the right people. Ultimately it will provide significant, business changing growth, but you have to invest in order to grow.
The number one challenge of creating business value from social media marketing is finding the right people. There are very few people that understand how to be great at social media marketing. There are tons of “experts” but most of these experts are not interested in actually doing the work. They will build you a plan, they will tell you what to do, but they will not do it for you. Being great at social media is a very finite skillset and it is a very difficult role to fill. Much like having a good accountant, you will not know that they suck until your finances are a mess. You will not know that your social media isn’t working until you are months in and there are no measurements of value. Great social media management requires people that are excellent communicators, know how to implement business growth strategy and are committed to building their skillset every single day.
While Facebook has been the main focus of this blog (because it is the biggest), that does not mean there is not equal value in the other social media platforms. We see amazing results from Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and if you haven’t been paying attention, Google+ is becoming a must. Just like Facebook, you have to start with a goal for these platforms and a strategy to ensure that they are the right fit. Social media is not a one-size-fits-all and every type of business requires a unique plan.
1,400 words later, maybe you aren’t yet convinced, but what I would love to understand is then what? If you still don’t want to take the time to understand the value of social media marketing, then what are you going to invest in to grow your business that can have the same magnitude of effect?
Photo credit: Flickr user mkhmarketing. Used with permission through Creative Commons.