Social media marketing; everybody’s doing it, but not many understand it. I’m finding this statement to be true more and more each day. Business owners are being told that they need social media marketing. So many jump in without looking. Then they face the realities of social media, and realize they have been fed several misconceptions. These misconceptions have caused some to doubt, and others to completely discredit social media’s effectiveness as a marketing vehicle.
If you believe the following about social media marketing, you don’t know jack!:
- It’s free – many believe that since it is free to sign up, there is no cost associated with it.
- You own it – the common belief is that we own our social media sites.
- There’s no Return on Investment – using traditional marketing metrics for a non-traditional marketing medium doesn’t always work.
Overcoming these misconceptions is a step in the right direction for fully understanding social media’s potential as a core marketing, and even business, function.
Social Media Marketing is NOT Free
If I had a dollar for every time… I won’t finish that cliché, but the fact that social media sites don’t cost any money to set up and operate leads most people to assume social media marketing is FREE. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is, when determining the cost of social media, you must look at it, just like most aspects of social media through a non-traditional lens. Social media marketing, when done correctly, has a significant cost to it. If you think about time as your most precious commodity, which it is since you can never get it back once spent, then social media can cost a lot. When done correctly, you need time to strategize what content you’re posting, when, what channels, what you’re going to say, etc. Not to mention if you are creating the content yourself, or at least editing somewhat. Then you need time to figure out if anything you posted worked, if so which pieces of content worked, then figure out how to replicate and expand on that success. If it sounds like a full-time job that’s because it is, and as a business owner you’re already a salesperson, accountant, project manager, marketing manager, distribution coordinator, and who knows what else. Not to mention that the time you spend on social media, or any other business function, takes away from time to spend on other business functions. So if your time is valuable, like most people, social media can get quite costly. Just because it’s “free” doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost anything.
You Own Your Social Media Profiles
Have you ever heard someone say, or maybe you’ve said, “I built my business on social media.” Subsequently that person has invested hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars into promoting their Facebook page, or they’ve spent a small fortune generating traffic to their Tumblr. This is a common mistake business owners, and I’m noticing lots musicians, are making. While it’s good to utilize social media networks as marketing vehicles, they are not, and should not be destinations. I’m not saying that a Facebook page should not spend money to gain more exposure and get more likes to the page. What I am saying is that your Facebook page should not be the final destination. The purpose of engaging people on Facebook, or any other social network is to make them comfortable with you and your brand so that they are more likely to visit your business, and more specifically your website, in order to convert into a customer. Social media, being a digital entity, should primarily drive to a digital space you own, such as your website. Offline traffic should be secondary, even in the case of B2B. The reason being, if you drive to your owned property online you can always control exactly how the visitors experience will be, and make adjustments on the fly. Whereas sending them offline causes the user to do too many actions that are not as likely to occur as clicking a link. Additionally, by sending potential customers to your site versus social media sites, you are not burdened by the Terms of Service of anyone else, which we all know can be a major pain. Furthermore, if Facebook, Tumblr, and every other social media site folded, your website would not be affected. Many businesses operate with assumption that social media sites will never fold. While social media networks like Facebook or Twitter are not likely to fold anytime soon, (fingers crossed,) it is much more likely that social media sites may be acquired. Just look at how Facebok has been buying social media companies if you don’t believe this could happen. What if your network is bought and the rules are changed? Or even more basic, what if your social network changes the almighty “algorithm” again to your further detriment? What then?
You have true ownership of a digital property when you’re the only one that decides what, when, and how content is shared. Remember social media is the vehicle; your website should be the destination.
There’s No ROI
When observing social media marketing through traditional lenses, business owners believe that there is no Return on Investment for social media. ROI is the not-so-new industry buzz word for measuring what a business function is contributing. That very definition is why ROI can be easily garnered from social media marketing efforts. The issue lies in what you want to measure. If your only measurement of ROI is sales, then social media might not get you super excited. While it can, and does drive sales, that should not be a company’s primary use for social media marketing. There are so many other ways of measuring social media’s impact on business. You can measure anything from the cost reduction of customer service and improved quality of experience for customers, to website traffic driven and brand sentiment. ROI from social media is only limited to what is important to your business. Additionally you can apply various formulas to figure out the cost and revenue from everything in social media. As long as you assign an educated value to your time you can figure your costs associated with social media and thereby determine an ROI. Then you just need to establish what’s acceptable and what’s not for you as a company. And just like that, you have social media ROI. It’s a bit more complicated than that but that’s the gist of it. Now deciding what to measure, well that’s for a whole other blog post.
Social media marketing can be quite the conundrum. It is both free, and costly. It gives the appearance that you own it, but nothing is further from the truth. It’s easily measured, but understanding what to measure is one of the most difficult questions. These are some of the main reasons for the rise of, and need for, social media specialists. Outsourcing social media to an expert, or hiring a consultant to strategize, allows for time to do the things that made you want to start your business in the first place. Be creative, sell; do whatever it is that fueled you. Leave the social media to someone who loves doing that as much as you love doing what you do.
Can you think of any other common misconceptions about social media? Have something to contribute to this post? Feel free to leave a comment.