Why your social media ROI sucks (but you should keep doing it anyway)

Getting a return from Social MediaSocial Media has become an essential part of marketing your business online., with over 90% of businesses now using Social Media.

Is social media really worth your time, money and effort though?

Most businesses are wasting their time on social media

Unfortunately, the majority of businesses get a very poor return on investment from their social media efforts. Social media is often free or cheap to use, but it can be very expensive in terms of time and effort required to get results.

For most businesses, this means that social media is costing them time, energy and money that would better be spent on serving customers or working on other marketing channels.

The vast majority of businesses ROI for social media are negative
Should you give on on Social media then?

Why your social media efforts aren’t paying off

First let’s see why your social media efforts are failing. Then we’ll see what you can do about it. Finally, we’ll talk about why you should continue learning about and working at Social Media, even though it isn’t paying off yet.

  1. You don’t know what you are doing with social media -It takes time, effort and help to learn to use any new tool or skill. You didn’t know how to use other technology until someone taught you. Take some courses, read some books or get some coaching to learn how to use social media well.
  2. No one knows what they are doing with social media -  There. I’ve said it. The secret of 99% of people in marketing and social media – this is a brand new world – the rules are constantly changing! Because social media is still very new – even most experts in the industry have been using for less than a decade.  New tools, networks, and strategies are appearing all the time. The top social media practitioners spend more time learning than they do working – they need to in order to keep up with the rate of change. Also, the strategies that work on social media are different to what has worked in other marketing channels. As a result, even experienced marketers are struggling to get the most out of their social media efforts.
  3. You are trying to sell on social media – Social media is supposed to be social.
    Wikipedia defines social media like this:

    Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.

    Think of social media like one big party – people are there meeting friends, having fun, making new connections, and exchanging great stories and funny photos. If someone walks in and starts trying to sell something (like Amway or used cars) you can guess what this does to the conversation and atmosphere. Chances are the interesting people will join a different conversation, and likely avoid that sales person in future.

    Social media is about creating visibility and likeability, then building on this to boost your credibility. None of this is going to make you money immediately (and that is how it is supposed to be).

  4. You don’t have a sales funnel – This might sound funny after the last point, but if you are going to make money in your business, you need a sales funnel. This shouldn’t be on social media – it should be on your own website, physical business or other structure you control completely. Your sales funnel should be capable of capturing qualified leads and turning them into sales. Social media is one of the way your get new customers into your sales funnel, but if you try to sell on social media you will usually just kill the social aspect
  5. You don’t mean business – Social media can be an enormous time suck. Its easy to spend hours on facebook and not complete anything really concrete.People who succeed on Social Media do so by having a strategy, and working their networks. This still means being fun, friendly and social, but it means having a plan. For example, rather than just randomly connecting and commenting, you can systematically work through connecting with a specific group of prospects.
  6. You are too superficial -Don’t worry, there is a cure! The key to getting ROI from social media is building deeper, real relationships with key people in your circles. Just connecting with someone online the blasting them with your own stuff works about as well as a conversation where people don’t listen to what the other person is saying. Learn more about your network, find out how you can help each other, and start by giving and learning.
  7. You aren’t generous enough - Gee, this is a tough list, isn’t it! Just like in real life, people respond best to those who listen, give, and offer to help. They aren’t so interested in people who are always needy or trying to get something from you. Stand out from the crowd of selfish sales people and be the one who goes the extra mile and thinks of others. Be positive, giving and generous and watch the rewards flow.
  8. You are not consistent enough – A common mistake with social media is to get started and do heaps…. But then forget about it or not follow through.Its much better to spend a regular 15 minutes a day to growing and connecting your network than it is to spend 5 hours once a month. In particular, make sure you respond to comments and follow through with leads. An unattended social media account is worse than no account at all.
  9. You aren’t leveraging your existing networks and strengths -Don’t make the mistake of trying to build a social network from scratch – be sure to connect with real life friends and colleagues, search out the people you inspire you, brands you love, and communities who share your passion. Remember, it is social! It’s much easier to figure social media out when you have a few friends to chat with both online and in real life. They can be great allies with any online project and let you know when you are missing the mark.
  10. You don’t track your metrics, or you track the wrong metrics – At this early stage in social media, the metrics we use are still crude and unreliable. For a while, everyone was obsessed with Facebook Likes and follower counts, but it is clear that these aren’t reliable indicators of Social Media ROI. If you have a great sales funnel set up and your product or service is well marketed on Social media, you are much better tracking social leads, conversions and sales.For many businesses though, Social Media is about building good will. To a degree, this can still be measured as lifetime customer value and referral rates, but just like real-life relationships, not everything can be reduced to numbers.

In summary, It’s still early days. Don’t expect instant results – social media needs to be part of a holistic long term strategy to grow your business – it’s not a way to make a quick buck or get instant results.

Building a decent network, making online friends, figuring out your voice and your message: these things all take time.

Why you really should continue with social media (Even if you suck at it!)

Social media is the fastest growing communication phenomenon in human history.

 

It is changing every year, and rapidly becoming the preferred online communication tool for an entire generation (many young people no longer have email accounts).
The reason you should persist with social media is that communicating social is the new literacy.

Let’s face it – the first few years of your learning to speak were pretty unimpressive. The same goes for your first few years of writing.

For most of us, social media is another new medium – one which is complex, rich and constantly evolving.

It isn’t going anywhere – it is taking over how we socialise, communicate and do business.

Learning to use social media today is like learning to use a computer a generation ago. Like learning any new skill it can be a challenge, but one that will pay off for years to come.

 

Comments

  1. C Bret Campbell says:

    Well, yeah, that pretty well sums that up. Should be required reading…

  2. So True, Dallas! I gave a talk last Friday covering 90% of these points.

  3. Thanks Jeremy – glad it resonated. I get frustrated when people who don’t have the first clue about social media want to jump straight to measuring ROI, when they haven’t even set up their accounts properly. Talk about wanting to run before they can walk – more like before they can crawl.
    Social media is here for the long haul… it is important to educate ourselves and learn new skills – especially if you aren’t a digital native.

  4. Totally agree too Dallas – this is the basis of a talk I’m giving at a conference in London in September. So many people expect to ‘join’ social media and achieve instant results just because they are there. It is a skill and the biggest mistake some of my clients make is believing that only the younger generation will make the best managers of their social media. I find success comes not just from a mix of good training, a measure of intuition and experience, but by recruiting a loyal company ambassador who enjoys communicating with people.

  5. Thanks Sally – we are so used to everything being a commodity that without experience of Social Media, we expect it is just one more thing to be bought and sold. Really, it is hard to put a value on our own and our audience’s time and attention, much less turn it into a commodity. I think Facebook is seeing what happens when you try to do that = blowback.

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