“The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can’t be done.” —John Ruskin
Social media might have begun as a source of entertainment, but it has become a powerful marketing tool. Platforms such as Instagram boast of over 1 billion active users a month, and over 200M of them visit at least one business page a day. When used right, social media can generate leads, drive traffic to your website, increase sales, and draw attention to your products and services.
Unfortunately, many businesses struggle to find this type of value from their social media efforts.
The problem isn’t that social media doesn’t work. But rather that companies dive into social media without a real understanding of the money, time, and energy it takes to successfully market their business on social platforms.
Like any other form of marketing, social media marketing requires you to carry out research, set up a detailed strategy, create content, and advertise. In addition, you’ll need to hire professionals to help you develop campaigns and buy tools to track and measure your marketing efforts. And this only scratches the surface. Bottom line, social media marketing requires a conscientious, consistent, and creative effort and there is no cheap way around it.
If you’re struggling to see results from your social media marketing, then it’s time to consider what you put into it in the first place.
Organic Social Media Marketing Doesn’t Work Anymore
There’s just too much competition for the limited attention of users. Nine in every ten companies in the United States use social media for marketing. Years ago, this was not the case. In 2014, if your business did Facebook advertising, you were miles ahead of your competitors. Today, Facebook advertising is almost a standard need for any business. It’s no surprise either, Facebook currently has over 2.94 billion users.
Needless to say, there is a clutter of content on social platforms and it’s going to take a lot more to be heard. You can’t simply launch profiles on social platforms, post some content, and expect the fans, shares, or sales to come pouring in. Likewise, you can’t spend a few hundred dollars on social media marketing and expect a massive ROI.
Yes, organic social media marketing can bring some traction to your business. But to reach the league of companies like Tiffany & Co-whose Instagram posts generate 11 times more interactions than the average watch & jewelry brand-you will need to reach into your pockets and provide the necessary creative and production resources.
The Right Way to Approach Social Media Marketing
- Set a Realistic Budget: The average company spends between 15% to 25% of their marketing budget on social media. That’s about a third to a quarter of their budget on paid and organic social media. How do you compare? Granted, spending money on social media doesn’t guarantee success, but it sure increases the likelihood. If you’re committed to using social media to grow your business, you must be willing to sacrifice some of your revenue.
- Have goals: Setting goals for social media will help you focus your resources, especially when you don’t have a lot. Your goals should be as specific as possible and should focus on solving one or two of your company’s problems-not chasing vanity metrics. For example, if you have complaints about customer service, a good goal for your social media would be to improve customer relationships.
- Create a Strategy: Once you have your goal(s) locked down, your next line of action should be creating a detailed plan that will help you achieve them. Your strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by asking yourself why, who, where, what, and when. Why do I want to do social media (your goal)? Who do I want to reach (your target audience)? Where can I best reach them(the social platforms you’ll focus on)? What will I share with them? (the type of content you’ll post), and when?
- Focus on Quality: Social media is turning a corner. Just as Google did with SEO, social networks are starting to reward content that drive genuine human connection and positive engagement with views. While those that are spam, click bait, or irrelevant are buried. This means quality is being strongly prioritized over quantity. Facebook recently changed its news feed algorithm to sieve out content that did not provide ‘meaningful interaction’ among users. Instagram also recently removed the number of likes on posts so users can focus more on the quality of the content rather than how popular a post seems. The good news is any business willing to put in the effort to create valuable content will do well on these social platforms moving forward-and that should include you.
- Get Help: One major difference between companies who successfully use social media to grow their business and those that don’t is that the former get outside help while the latter often try to figure it out on their own. Unfortunately, that’s the same difference I see between larger and smaller companies. Most large companies are more willing to hire agencies and experts even though they need it less than their smaller counterparts. If you run a small business and are still on the fence about hiring help for your social media marketing, here are a few things you should understand:
- Social media marketing is complex, unless you have marketing experience you will need someone with expertise to figure it out.
- Social media marketing is a full-time job. Your time and energy are better spent focusing on improving your products and services than trying to understand every nuance of social media.
- You will save and make a lot more money. Mostly because you will make less mistakes and see results faster with the help of a professional.
- You can learn from the people you hire. This is often a very underrated reason to hire someone proficient in social media marketing, they can teach you a lot.
- Trust the experts. Many small businesses who eventually outsource their social media marketing, still try to micromanage the people they hire. This is not only time-consuming, but also frustrating to both the business and the agency. Leave your social media to experts like many successful companies do.
Social media marketing works, but it isn’t a magic bullet. It’s going to take time to build an engaging community, create brand awareness, or drive traffic and sales. Accept that you can’t do it all by yourself and enlist the help of experienced professionals. Social media can be a vital tool for you to gain the confidence and loyalty of your customers, but only if you approach it with the seriousness that it deserves.