By Daniel Brophy, Social Media Specialist
A question I hear all the time is some variation of: “We are active on social media, but do not see a return on investment. Would we be better off focusing our marketing efforts elsewhere?”
First of all, I understand that it is frustrating to pour time and money into social channels without seeing a solid ROI. That being said, I believe that every business must invest in its social media presence, at least to some extent. If you feel that your social media efforts are falling flat, you might need to revise your strategy and/or change your mindset.
Any way you slice it, the reality is that social media has reached a level of ubiquity that simply cannot be ignored. Please consider the following!
Top Reasons Why You Shouldn't Abandon Social Media
The number of social media users has continued to grow and grow.
In 2017, 81 percent of Americans had a social media profile, representing a 5 percent growth compared to the previous year.
As we can see, the number of people active on social media is astounding. Many of us spend hours every day on social channels! There will inevitably be conversations had about your business on social media, or about news and topics that are relevant to your brand and your target audience
To what extent do you want to be involved in these conversations, take a more proactive approach to shaping consumer perceptions of your brand, and participate in conversation most pertinent to your audience and industry?
The modern consumer wants to be able to contact your business on social media.
A recent survey found that 84% of consumers expect companies to respond within 24 hours after posting on social media.
The very nature of communication has been forever changed with the advent of social media. We’ve seen a shift in online user behavior, in that there is now an expectation to be able to find and contact a business online, be it for customer service or information gathering. An incoming Facebook message or a direct Twitter mention should be treated with as much importance as if someone picked up the phone and called you.
Social media fosters far-reaching brand awareness, recognition, and loyalty.
So much of consumer activity and brand interaction has moved into the online space. Social media channels don’t exist in isolation. Someone searching online is almost as likely to stumble on your Facebook page as they are on your actual website.
- Your social profiles should be considered as extensions of your actual business
- Anyone perusing your social content, photos, videos, blogs & content shares, or interacting with you online should be treated as if they just walked right in your front door
By taking the time and effort to create aesthetically pleasing social channels that closely mimic the look and feel of your website and branding identity, you create an inviting space that attracts users and helps them to remember your business, whenever and wherever they encounter you.
Similarly, social channels help foster greater brand loyalty through the public display of engagement and customer service. Additionally, your social profiles can serve as a central hub for online communities of people interested in your business, products, services, and industry.
Social media bolsters your SEO and overall marketing efforts.
The relationship between social media and SEO is very real. The exact nature of how it affects SEO — and to what extent — is a subject that is often debated in both realms.
Overall, we do know that social media has the power to impact rankings, in more ways than one.
- Sharing your content on social media (following the 80/20 rule, of course) increases exposure and the chance that people will consume it, re-share it, or even link back to it on their website. Quality backlinks are of course one of the most important ranking factors.
- Content quality is also crucial. If your content is lacking, don’t look to social media to provide much help.
- Social media can also help drive targeted traffic to specific areas of your website. This can be accomplished with organic social strategies, i.e. the more you share your content and maintain visibility on social channels, the more people will likely visit your website.
We’re mostly talking about paid social media advertising here. Running targeted ad campaigns on social media is one of the best ways to drive qualified traffic to your website, which in theory (provided people like what they see when they get there) tells search engines that people are visiting your site, spending time on there, and viewing multiple pages, thus creating a positive feedback loop that and helps with your rankings.
Many businesses have found that, once they get their strategy dialed in, they can in fact generate leads and sales on social media. This is especially the case when it's used as part of a greater integrated digital marketing strategy.
Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Pull the Plug
Is your social media presence truly as good as it could be?
If you had to be completely honest with yourself, how would you rate your social media presence? Do you have a concrete strategy, and are you implementing it? When someone contacts you, do you quickly respond (are you monitoring incoming messages)? Have you taken the time to fully analyze your audience?
Perhaps it’s time for you to do a complete social media audit, and determine where you excel and where you might be lacking.
Another thing to ask is, Are you taking advantage of social media tools? There are many solutions out there that can streamline various aspects of your social media efforts, requiring less input of effort for the same level of output.
Are you utilizing both organic and paid social?
Having a strong organic social media presence is important. It is an invaluable way to show the world what your brand/business is all about. It helps connect your brand with your existing and potential new audiences.
Unfortunately, organic reach has fallen dramatically on social channels, namely Facebook. This simply means it is less likely that a given Facebook user will see your posts. It's become widely known and accepted that "pay to play" is the name of the game in the current social media marketing climate.
There are countless people, brands, and businesses that are all competing for users' attention. Paid social is going to be your go-to if your goals are to drive more traffic and generate more leads and sales.
It's good to have a mix of both organic and paid components in your social strategies, as well as a good mix of content formats and topics. It takes time and practice to achieve an effective posting schedule and rhythm that works best for your brand and most resonates with your audience.
Also, keep in mind that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. You might have great content, but you are simply posting too often. There is a very real concept known as audience oversaturation. Are you noticing more negative actions on posts? Are you seeing an uptick in unlikes/unfollows, or more people hiding your posts and ads?
If so, think about backing off a bit. It might be a "one step back to take two forward" situation.
Are you correctly attributing your social media ROI?
This is an area that deserves a whole other blog unto itself, so I'll keep it short and sweet. Are you certain that you are correctly attributing new leads and sales to traffic coming from social channels? Do you use UTM parameters on shared links back to your website so you can gauge performance in analytics? Do you have any way to determine if phone calls, chats, and emails are coming from people who came to you from or discovered you on social media?
If there are gaps in your attribution model, you might not be adequately assigning value to your social media efforts.
The Key Takeaway...
If you’ve made it this far and can say, “Yes, I do all those things, and I still don’t see a return on investment,” then perhaps it's time to revamp your strategy. However, I wholeheartedly believe that a business should never abandon social media outright. You don't want to turn your back on the people who are connected with your business, or miss out on the pertinent conversations happening on social channels.
If the issue lies more in that you aren't satisfied with the leads and sales you are obtaining through social, indeed it's time to revise your approach. Schedule a meeting with your team and ask yourself the questions I laid out above. It could simply be that you are lacking in one area or another that could help you achieve a more sales-oriented social strategy. It might simply be that you need to spend more on paid promotions. You may even choose to lessen your reliance on social media as a means of lead generation or direct sales, and instead focus on maximizing the branding and community aspects of your social presence.
Either way, it's time we shift our mindset on social media in general. It would be wise to maintain a certain basal functioning on your social channels to make sure that you aren’t neglecting your social audience and potential customer base.