Blog / Will Social Media Ever Work for Your Business?
You could be forgiven for thinking that marketing is changing.
You no longer use Direct Mail because of the expense and hassle, your Google AdWords campaigns are becoming harder and more expensive as competition increases, Email Marketing seems too spammy – and all the talk is of Social Media being the next big thing in marketing.
So, with all the hype, all the positive vibes and the clear social changes that are occurring as people spend more time on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn it’s easy to understand why Social Media is being perceived as being the next big thing.
That’s why “getting into it” is seen as a good idea.
However, there is an elephant in the room.
A great big charging, snorting and bellowing Bull elephant!
The other day a really good client asked me the question – “now that our website is working really well, our list is growing rapidly, sales are flying and our email communications plan is working well, what do you think about using Social Media?”
After a short pause and a quick think, I had to admit …
Social Media just isn’t a viable marketing strategy for the vast majority of businesses (see below for some special case exemptions).
I felt like I was letting him down. I felt like I was a “flat earth” proponent.
How could it be true that Social Media is so lousy for marketing when it sounds so good?
I know that my answer might seem like sacrilege. But let’s look at the facts…
Sales, Revenue and Profit
Start knocking on the doors of businesses in your road or town and keep going until you have knocked on 100 doors.
Ask every one of them what is generating the majority of their revenue today – you’ll be lucky to find one that does it with Social Media. Even 5 or 6 years after Social Media burst onto the scene.
In fact most who are using Social Media will tell you “we don’t do it to generate a return”! Go figure.
Response and Value
Compare what return you may get with Social Media with other marketing and you’ll discover a sad, frustrating and heart breaking truth (we’ve discovered this the hard way too).
Even if you can monetise your Social lists (likes, connections and followers) you’ll discover that you need around 20 times as many contacts to generate the same revenue and value as a straightforward email list.
So 100,000 followers can only be expected to generate the same response and sales revenue as an email list of 5,000 prospects and customers. At best! The experts don’t tell you that!
Facebook organic reach is in decline, some might say freefall. According to Social@Ogilvy organic reach has fallen from 16% in 2012 to around 6% in 2014. Creating content on Facebook can be like building your house on rented land – someone else has ultimate control.
Right Media, Wrong Media?
Social Media is “social”! It is not a commercial media. Developing a strong Social Media following then asking “for the order” is like going to the Pub and asking your neighbours, friends and mates to buy from you – wrong question, wrong people, wrong time and the wrong place.
If people want to buy they search or they “discover”. If you ambush people by trying to sell to them in a social setting you risk upsetting them.
The largest search engines are much more likely to deliver a healthy ROI because they are used by buyers – people actively looking to spend money on what you sell.
Does your target market even engage with Social Media that much, if at all? I always do a quick “after the break” straw poll during seminars. Who, I ask – posted, tweeted or checked their Facebook or Twitter account during the break? One or two hands rise (at most). OK, I say, I have another question. Who checked their emails? Almost every hand rises.
The reality is, if you want to reach the kind of people who attend my seminars and workshops (CEO’s, MD’s and Owner Managers) then they aren’t paying attention to their Social Media accounts even if they have them.
If you’re targeting this group and spending time on Social Media – you’re wasting your money. On the other hand, if we’re targeting 20 year olds then the reverse could be true.
The ‘experts’ say “you need a Social Media strategy or be left behind”. Really?
Left behind what exactly?
Here are five ‘reality check’ questions to ask BEFORE you spend significant time or money on Social Media marketing…
1. If my target audience aren’t using Social Media as a way to find providers of the products or services that I sell – how will I be left behind?
2. If I set up a Social Media strategy and allocate time and money (salaries for example) for investing in it – who is reading it, what action does it prompt them to take and what is my return?And crucially…
3. What about the money I could have made had I invested the time in creating better website pages that attract more searchers (people actually looking for what I sell)?
4. What about the money I could have made if I invested “Social Media” time in creating fantastic communications to email to my list of prospects and customers (emails have up to 20 times better ROI)?
5. What about the money I could have made if I invested the “Social Media” spend on building my Email Marketing list (which outperforms a Facebook list by 20:1 in terms of revenue)?
Good is the enemy of ‘best’.
By allowing significant time and effort to be ‘invested’ in Social Media marketing it might well feel good, it may well create great ‘buzz’ and ‘vibe’ – but is it the very BEST use of scarce and valuable time and money?
Does it even reach your target market, let alone get read and prompt meaningful actions?
You Can’t Live on “Likes” and “Followers”.
Next time a hot shot marketer tells you that you need a Social Media strategy and comes up with a “must buy” proposal – then offer to share your success with them.
They can have 50% of your Likes and Followers as an additional incentive to reward them for their breakthrough marketing strategy.
Hmmm! It’s pretty tough to live on “likes” and “followers”!
But that’s exactly what you’re buying if you spend your valuable time and money on Social Media.
So what DOES work?
Fair question. And one that we’ll develop this more in future Results Reports.
For now, based on real world results for real world businesses here is a snapshot of 2014 marketing strategies that work day in day out for businesses of all types … and a tried and tested 7-STEP SEQUENCE of client acquisition and conversion…
1. Drive Traffic
The fastest, cheapest, most accountable way to generate new enquiries through your website and to build your list is still Google AdWords.
It is cheaper and more dependable than SEO. It reaches the largest market of active buyers in the world. It is measurable, scalable and massively successful.
Google AdWords and Email Marketing are the two stand out marketing breakthroughs of the 21st Century. Social Media trails in the dust when it comes to actual results.
2. Get the Contact Details of Visitors
Creating valuable “packages” of information (Packaged Information) can be like putting your AdWords, Email Marketing, Direct Mail and Advertising on steroids.
Buyers crave information. They expect to get information before that have to choose and buy. Scratch that itch and rewards are huge.
With Packaged Information you can out-compete your competition on Google, your Website suddenly starts converting like never before, your lists explode in size, your Email Campaigns wake up the “sleeping buyers” on your list and cost per enquiry on your advertising plummets.
3. Build Your List
Tony Blair (remember him?) famously stated that his three priorities were Education, Education, Education.
In business your three priorities for developing profitable, growing and reliable sales revenue are List, List, List.
Your business future is inextricably linked to the size, value, responsiveness of your prospect and customer lists and your relationship with them.
4. Nurturing Communications Plan
A carefully thought through and immaculately executed Communications Plan for nurturing and converting your prospects is the best way to extract the maximum potential and lifetime value from your lists.
A carefully crafted Communications Plan based on Email Marketing is cheap (a fraction of the cost of doing it 10 to 15 years ago before Email Marketing came along), incredibly responsive, fast to react and could be the MOST important source of new revenue in your business.
5. Offers & Conversion
The most effective and cheapest way to realise the full revenue potential of your prospect list is to create and send carefully crafted and outstanding Marketing Emails including articles, valuable information and offers to your list to convert prospects into clients.
6. Nurturing Clients
Once you have a customer it is 5 to 7 times easier and cheaper to sell to them again than to any other list – as long as you have a strategy for deepening, enlarging and enhancing the relationship with this list.
7. Cross Selling & Up Selling System
Develop a strategy for going back to existing clients (alongside your nurturing) again and again to create additional new sales, to generate larger repeat orders and to get more new clients through referral. This is a MASSIVE (often untapped) source of additional revenue.
So, Will Social Media Ever Work?
Yes it will, but only for some businesses, for some products and for some target markets.
Today, spending a lot of time and money on Social Media is simply a ‘vanity’ project for most businesses – consuming a lot of time and resource for little return.
Here are some specialist applications and special case exceptions (to the above) that are valid Social Media marketing strategies…
Special Case Exemptions
As with everything there are some special case exemptions where Social Media not only works and delivers return on investment, but can deliver sensational results.
Here are some examples…
Your Target Market is all Over Social Media – a client of ours runs a nightclub with a dedicated Facebook following. When they post details of upcoming events they get great results because their target market is on Social Media and they are fully engaged with the client.
Facebook Pay-Per-Click – this is working brilliantly for some businesses, especially with B2C products and services.
LinkedIn – can be an excellent tool for helping with networking and prospecting for sales professionals.
Twitter – can be a great way to get journalists to pick up your content and stories if you have a high profile brand or highly topical content.
Forums – forums with ‘niche’ audiences who are slap bang in your target market can be an excellent way to generate a following for your Blog and traffic to your website.
Customer Service & Brand Protection – if you have a high profile brand then investing in a specialist team to monitor and react to posts and comments can be an invaluable way to protect and defend your brand, and to enhance your customer service. Companies like Dell have excelled in this use of Social Media.
Credibility and Trust – having well set up and active Social Media accounts that are linked to your website can be valuable ‘trust factors’ that give potential buyers more confidence and enhance your credibility.
Recruitment – Social Media can be an effective channel for recruitment (especially LinkedIn) and can also support your other recruitment efforts.
Will Social Media Work for YOUR Business?
However, for the main, Social Media remains a frustrating enigma – it looks so promising, it seems to be ‘the future’, yet it delivers so little.
Even worse, because of the temptation to get into the ‘game’, Social Media often sucks ‘oxygen’, energy and valuable resources from other more valuable marketing efforts.
For the vast majority of businesses, spending time on marketing that does work and will deliver ROI such as creating sensational emails, great website content and highly optimised website landing pages is the best choice.
Good is the enemy of best – Social may seem like a good thing to be doing, but it needs to be challenged.
Is it the BEST way to spend that time and effort in the hunt for new clients, more sales and higher profits?
Filed under: Social Media