Hey, wait! What was that? Social media doesn’t work for business any longer? That doesn’t exactly jive with the marketing and promotional material of the social media giants. But with Facebook’s new algorithms combined with recent social media stats, being active on social media may not always lead towards more business.
To learn more about this we spoke with marketer and speaker Marc Gordon, who says your business may do better by concentrating on combining social media with conventional media campaigns.
‘Why social media no longer works for business’ – could you explain why this is? Isn’t this exactly the opposite that Facebook, Twitter etc tell their business users?
First off, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms that sell advertising will always do their best to show business owners how they can reach customers using their respective platforms. However we all know this has become increasingly difficult as the result of algorithms combined with the shear volume of data in people’s feeds. This is why many platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and soon Pinterest) charge for promoting a post. And this is not interacting, creating engagement, or sharing. It’s advertising.
Does this hold true for all businesses?
Many case studies have been written supporting why business should use social media. However there is are two major snags that appear in virtually every one: First, most studies don’t cover any marketing campaigns that were done in addition to social media.
A great example is Georgetown Cupcakes in Washington, DC. They are very active on Facebook (364,000 likes), Twitter (93,000 followers), and Pinterest (8,600 followers) and are commonly used as an example of success in social media marketing. Yet no one mentions they used a PR firm to get them featured on the Martha Stewart Show (2008, 2011), The Oprah Winfrey Show (2010), The Today Show (2009), The New York Times (2008) and the Washington Post (2008). This coincides with the start of their Facebook and Twitter campaigns starting in 2008 and 2009 respectively. One can only wonder how big a social following they would have if they had not used a PR firm.
Second, most case studies focus on statistics as a measure of success, the number of “likes”, followers, et al. The more followers and “likes”, the greater the success of the campaign. Rarely is a connection made between these stats and the impact they have on sales. Which, as any marketer will tell you, is what counts.
Are any social media platforms better than others for business owners/users?
Each social media platform is unique in both the audience it serves and the type of media it delivers. Some allow everyone to see what you share (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube) while others are exclusive platforms (SnapChat, Instagram). All require some sort of “permission” by the user to automatically receive updates and information. Deciding on the right one involves taking into account a number of factors including:
- What demographic uses the platform
- The type of media the platform delivers (text, video, photos)
- The ability of the marketer to create relevant content
- The desire of the marketer to maintain the account
- The effectives and cost of being able to reach followers through paid/unpaid posts
Should small business concentrate their online efforts elsewhere?
Small business needs to figure out where to get the greatest return on their investment – that being both money and time. Should they abandon social media? Only if they don’t like it or have not seen results based on a predetermined benchmark. Increasing sales, building awareness or engaging with customers can each be called a success if that is the goal of the business owner. To any business owner that says they enjoy using social media regardless of results, I say keep doing it.
However I believe that when social media is combined with conventional media campaigns, it will garner the most success.
From working with my own clients, I have seen that people will seek out a company on social media once they have a positive experience with it in person, or a positive perception of it through conventional media or word of mouth. And it should be noted that many businesses are thriving with no social media presence at all.
Learn more about social media and Marc Gordon at his website – http://marcgordon.ca/