Tue 16 Sep 2014 | By:

Forget the Hype! Some Hard Truths About Social Media

Forget the Hype! Some Hard Truths about Social MediaIt’s easy to get sucked into the hype surrounding social media.

Facebook has 1,310,000,000 monthly active users. Twitter has 645,750,000 active users, and Instagram’s popularity is rising with 182,500,000 active users.

Over a billion people use Facebook! It’s a marketers dream, right?

Actually, social media just seems to be the answer to our current marketing dilemma. We know our target markets are using social media, but connecting them in any beneficial way is challenging. The current perception of social media is it’s a great marketing tool, and businesses would be crazy not to use it. It’s built on the assumption that if you’re not getting results you are “doing it wrong”, not that the system is flawed.

But is this conclusion based on facts or just wishful thinking?

Social media is a relatively new phenomenon, so there isn’t a lot of hard evidence to back up any claims. The vast majority of social media advice is based on limited experience, and popular trends. It’s not based on ROI or profitability.

Before you invest anymore time using social media to grow your business, take a look at these hard truths about social media.

 

Hard Truth #1: Facebook Advertising Isn’t that Effective

4 out of 5 Facebook users have never bought a product or service as a result of Facebook advertising or comments.

Businesses pay to attract new users, and post advertisements. But, Facebook controls who actually sees each businesses post. Let’s face it – Facebook has to find a profitable business strategy. So they charge if you want to engage with any target market. What’s more troubling is the so-called Facebook Fraud. A large majority of fans are actually fake, so the value of likes is minimal.

Businesses still flock to Facebook in an effort to capture their audience. Maybe Facebook marketing will engage users better in the future, but until then, spend your marketing budget elsewhere.

 

Hard Truth #2: Social Media Doesn’t Increase Actual Profits

When asked if their social media strategies are profitable, here are a few quotes from actual social media professionals:

Simms Jenkins, CEO of BrightWave Marketing says:

“Social media is a valuable tool—it’s great for customer engagement—but it’s not the best way to drive sales. If you have just one bullet left in your gun to sell something, then email should always be that bullet”

Maersk Line, a global shipping company has a huge social media platform.  Maersk Line’s Head of Social Media admits:

“Social media is not responsible for an increase in business”

“Does [social media] translate into more containers being booked? No, not necessarily.  And certainly not right here and now” [1]

A Campbell’s Kitchen social media campaign also supports a lack of actual social media profit:

“Social media didn’t translate to an increase in business and there was no formal expectations of profit” [2]

If social media professionals confirm that social media isn’t profitable, believe it.

 

Hard Truth #3: Social Media is a Conversation – Not Marketing

Social media is not useless – it’s just not useful for marketing. So you may be wasting your time if you are trying to use your social media platforms as a one-way marketing strategy.

“Social media is about communication, not marketing. It’s about engaging, not pushing.” [1]

Just like networking in person, it takes time to network online. You can connect with clients, potential clients, and ask for referrals using social media. You have to invest your time and energy into making actual connections. Start a thoughtful conversation, help someone with a problem, or give someone support or advice.

This is the difference between talking at and talking with. If you’re not willing or able to spend time networking, don’t expect a huge payoff.

 

Be Realistic About Social Media Expectations

Resources are limited in every business, regardless of size. If all you are doing is putting out status updates and tweets, you’re wasting your time. Spend your time and money on what works. Organic search, paid search, and email marketing are still more effective than social media [3]. Especially when you combine them with a website that collects those leads properly.

Remember, social media is not the same as mass media. Social media is a conversation, while mass media is merely a statement. Be realistic in your social media expectations. If you want to grow your business, implement a marketing strategy that creates real, measurable results. Be focused on whats profitable, not what’s trendy.

Don’t assume something works, just because everyone is doing it.

[1] Katona, Z., & Sarvary, M. (2014) Maersk Line: B2B social media–“It’s communication, not marketing”

[2] Mandviwalla, M., & Watson, R. (2014) Generating capital from social media

[3] Duff, B. L. (2013) Study dismisses social media as effective direct sales channel

About Liesha Petrovich

Liesha is a small business owner of 20 years, host of Startup Savant, the owner of a karate dojo in Maine, and creator of Work Mobly. During free time she's with her family and working on a Doctorate in Entrepreneurship.