Does Social Media Marketing Help Your Business?
The argument of whether social media marketing works has existed since the term was invented over 20 years ago. And it’s still valid today. There are experts on both sides of this argument, each with valid points on the issue.
Social Media Marketing DOESN’T WORK!
Peter Visser of BigMouthMarketing.com, suggests that it really doesn’t work for small businesses for a number of reasons. He says that most small businesses hear the buzz about social media and all the so-called experts imploring companies to establish a well-rounded social media program. So, they go forward with it, hire or delegate a staff person to spend half their time on social media, and spend hundreds of dollars per month promoting posts and getting likes. Visser says the average small business just can’t afford it.
A study by Forrester Research called, “Social Relationship Strategies that Work” suggests that most marketers have difficulty generating any business value from social relationship marketing. They speculate that most people don’t “see” branded posts (as opposed to social interest posts) and even fewer act on them. The report opines that brands are wasting money, time, and scarce resources on something that doesn’t deliver ROI.
Social Media Marketing DOES WORK!
On the flip side, according to Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 92 percent of marketers working with small businesses agree or strongly agree that social media is crucial to their marketing efforts. Furthermore, more than 50 percent of small businesses agree social media helps them increase sales within two years.
Randy Gage of RandyGage.com sees it both ways. In his article, “Why Social Media Marketing Does Not Work”, Randy talks about how he personally gets most of his business through social media, but that it doesn’t work for most companies because they don’t work it, or work it correctly. He says that many companies go out and hire a social media guru or company to set up the complete soup to nuts of social media—Facebook page, LinkedIn account, Twitter wrap, and Pinterest board, then feed these sites with loads of inane filler such as inspirational quotes interspersed with product pitches.
Randy suggests that for social media to work, it must provide value. He says that most people will tune your message out if you’re just selling. Instead, come up with valuable information that you give away for free. Once you become a trusted source of information on the topic, people will want to spend money with you.
He also states that for social media to work effectively, you need to be ready to engage in the conversation. By re-tweeting or reposting interesting things that you think your followers will appreciate, you start a dialogue with them. These followers will get to know you and your company. People buy things from people they know. Consider being an active participant on industry blogs. The more your name comes up, especially as it relates to the sound advice you’re giving, the more people will associate you with a brand they can trust.
Randy also suggests to pick one or two platforms and focus your attention on them. Find out which platforms would be the most likely for your customers to use. Maybe it’s not Facebook or Twitter. Maybe it’s LinkedIn or Instagram. Just make sure to monitor the conversations on these platforms so that when bad things come up, you can jump on them right away to show you care.
Carter Hostelley, Founder and CEO of Leadtail, an agency focused on making online marketing and social media work for business, has more advice for companies looking for social media guidance. Carter offers that companies’ social media presence needs to evolve. He suggests that the company blog is more important than ever as a source of content to share on social media, with the idea being to educate and build trust with the customers. He goes on to say that companies should consider adopting a social media budget to allow for both organic and paid advertising in the social media space.
What’s the Right Answer?
There is no right answer to whether social media marketing can work for you. If you do go forward with a plan, analyze where your customers will be, engage with them, and give them content that is of value. If you decide to hold off, remember that social media is no longer just a gimmick. It’s here to stay. The sooner you figure out how to make it work for you, the better off your company will be.