Does Social Media Marketing really make sense for all small businesses? Does it really add to the bottom line for companies in all industries? How about Landscape, Accounting, or Insurance Firms? A Medical, Dental or Podiatry Practice? Many do use this forum as an attempt to communicate with their customers and patients. For retail it makes perfect sense. For other professional services, I wonder if it is necessary.
I’ve been managing the social media for Ridgefield One, a staffing and web development agency for over a year and a half now and am not quite sure how effective it has been at bringing in new business. I post a couple of times a day on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and reply to any messages or comments. I follow those who follow us, like those who like us, and so forth. We now have a decent number of Twitter followers and Facebook fans, but has it helped build brand awareness? Probably. Has it translated into sales? I do not know, perhaps indirectly.
To address my first question, if you are one who believes that all industries should promote themselves using social media, what’s the rationale? Some say it makes existing customers more loyal? Prove it… and while you’re at it explain how you measure ROI? I don’t believe that most companies are keeping track. I understand that some companies use it as a customer service tool. That makes sense; this is a matter of retention, but I’m still not convinced that it brings in new customers.
Since I manage social media for the company and use social media products personally, I am acutely aware of whom and when people interact with these forums. It’s tricky to elicit responses or encourage action; it is a game of sorts.
Samantha Scott, in her blog, getpushing.com, talks about a “pray and spray” effect. She describes the idea of “throwing out information, media like photos and video out on the Web and hoping someone looks at it, like your target audience.” In her opinion, that does not work. I agree with her. We don’t just want to measure how many fans or followers we have, but what we are doing with them. It doesn’t matter if your company Facebook page has 2,000 “likes” or “fans” if none of them are commenting, liking, posting or sharing with you.
A couple of months ago I conducted rudimentary research on this issue. I posted the same exact statement on both the Ridgefield One page and my personal profile. The personal profile received far more comments. Yes, it true I have more friends than Ridgefield One has followers, but I would still expect a couple of responses. I’ve done this several times since - same results. It makes me wonder if followers and fans ignore professional posts because they see them as advertisements.
Here’s what else I found:
People do not reply to anything that requires them to read too much or do any work!
Experiment: I posted links to articles that were timely, relevant, and thought provoking. Then I tried to elicit a response with a question which would prompt them to reply. NOTHING. Then I posted the question, “What was your favorite rock concert ever?” I received a bunch of enthusiastic comments immediately!
Observation: A friend of mine posted the following question on Facebook, “Do you brush your teeth before or after you take a shower?” In one day she received 43 responses! This proves my point. If that doesn’t tell you something about the dynamics of Facebook, then what does? You know what else gets people to react to posts? Sick children, sports updates, pictures from events, and any stupid video with animals.
I’ve been talking mostly about Facebook, now how about Twitter?
People who “tweet” think that they are so clever. Many use cryptic language in order to get their message across in 140 characters. It’s very confusing. Almost every tweet is a link to an article. Who has time to read all these articles, white papers, and blogs! And it’s never ending, just when you thought you’d cover all the important news, within seconds there are 100 more posts! With all this constant feed of information, how does a company get noticed? And if they do, does this translates into sales?
What we can learn from this.
If a business chooses to use Social Media Marketing, someone needs to manage it, have clear objectives, and make sure the social media manager keeps up with the technology and changing features. Clearly, the purpose of social media for business is to have a dialogue - communication in not one-sided. If companies only posts industry news or their own business updates, no one will be interested. Social media experts break it down like this:
Facebook and Twitter Posts
Ideally businesses need to measure social media performance. There are tools and methods to do this. Look out for my next blog: Utilizing qualitative and quantitative research to measure social media marketing effectiveness.
The attitudes and opinions expresses are those of one employee and not those necessarily of Ridgefield One as a whole nor its management.
Ridgefield One is an IT and Creative Web Service Agency located in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Ridgefield One also provides an Extra Set of Hands on a Temporary Basis.