Is the hype of social media failing business or is poor strategic planning to blame? It’s probably a little of both. It’s kind of like having high expectations for a movie and then realizing that maybe the critics were wrong as the credits roll. Social media has its place in business, but it can’t sustain or revive a business with no other effort on your part.
Understand What Social Media Can and Can’t Do
According to research by Forrester, just one percent of eCommerce business is driven by social media. The problem isn’t that social media isn’t an effective marketing tool, but the way that social media has been “sold” to businesses. Instead of viewing it as another marketing tool, the idea that’s been pushed is that you have to join the social media bandwagon or get left behind. Some reasons why social media is failing business include the following misconceptions:
• The more “likes” or “pins” you have, the better.
• Being adept at social media trumps quality products and good customer service.
• You need an experienced publisher to create great social media content.
• Customers always buy marketing messages when a business tweets or posts them in a “cool” way because it shows they are up to date with the latest technology.
In reality, having more “likes” on Facebook or more followers on Twitter doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be fresh in a customer’s mind when they’re looking to buy whatever it is you sell or offer. And forget about buying “likes” – that’s just a waste of money. Numerous studies show that customers browsing online rarely trust content that comes directly from a business. They figure that it’s polished marketing fluff and not a real reflection of what a business really offers and how they treat their customers.
Cost of Social Media Marketing
While there are some claims that you can enjoy productive results with social media marketing with absolutely nothing added to your marketing budget, the truth is that your social media efforts need to be included in the 12-20 percent of gross revenue over-all budget that you have allocated to marketing your business. You don’t expect something for nothing out of your other marketing strategies, so why should social media marketing be any different?
Using Social Media the Right Way
Stop thinking of social media as a connection to customers. It’s actually a tool for connecting to customers. There’s a big difference. Social media is a great way to reach customers, but it doesn’t replace the basic reasons why a potential customer becomes a customer. Solid customer service, good products, and value – which means both affordability and durability – are still as important as ever. Many companies are able to amass impressive social media numbers, but still fail to translate those metrics into revenue. Some ways to start using social media the right way include:
• Treat social media like a tool that can effectively reach customers.
• Realize that social media isn’t a magic way to generate sales and revenue.
• Have realistic expectations about how social media fits into your business.
• Avoid the temptation to try everything in terms of social media – experiment and see what platforms work best for your business.
• Create a strategy that builds on your particular social media strengths.
• Be creative in how you engage customers via social media.
Social media is akin to how it was when companies started hopping onto the World Wide Web for the first time. It wasn’t enough just to have a website back then and it’s not enough to have a Facebook page today. Social media can be an effective tool for reaching customers – as long as you pull back the curtain and see the wizard for what it really is.