Let's face it, business social media marketing won’t work for everyone

By Eric B. Delisle May 20, 2014 General No comments yet

There’s a story of a young man called Mike Hayes who had no money for college and found himself in a tight corner. He, however, came up with the brilliant idea that if he asked a couple of million people for a penny each, 2.8 million to be precise, he’d be able to raise the $28,000 he needed to go to college. We’ll, that plan not only worked but it went on to become a phenomenal success with pennies streaming in from all 50 states of the US.

In fact, it was such an astounding success that its remained a bit of an urban legend to date. That’s the same way businesses look at social media. They look at all the millions of users the various platforms have and it becomes a mathematical labyrinth most businesses cannot resist. Some muse, even if we tapped into a fraction of those numbers, we’d be making astronomical sales! That’s true, but that’s not how it is with social media.

The problem with social media is that it’s such an intimate and personal media channel, the brutish ways of conventional marketing simply serve to bruise the sensibilities of the billions of social media users you wish to tap into. So the result is a business with a social media marketing budget that isn’t translating into actual sales. And when you ask the marketing guys, they tell you social media takes time and is all about building relationships.

That’s partly true because it is about building relationships and sometimes takes time. The part that’s not true is that it will all work out in the end, for everyone. Sometimes it wont. So how do you know if you are burning cash on social media and will not get any returns? Here are a few general parameters.

B2B Businesses

If you are a B2B, your chances of gaining any traction on Twitter or Facebook are slim to none. This doesn’t mean all social media won’t work. LinkedIn may work for you rather well. The general rule however is that if your sales funnel is rather long (the steps from first contact to actual purchase), then chances are social media won’t work. If social media is great for building relationships, those relationships are only casual. The type of relationships you want to develop to cultivate your leads are deeper than social media updates and funny memes. If this describes your business, spend more time cultivating your leads using other channels such as email marketing, these may yield better results.

Specialized Niche Market

Perhaps you sell super-specialized niche products or services. For instance, you optimize servers for optimal performance, or you sell million dollar medical machines to hospitals. These areas are really niche markets that have a few hundred customers per every million people. This means you won’t even scratch the surface of your target market by using social media. In fact, finding one of them on social media will be like finding a needle in a haystack. Instead, you’ll need more direct methods of marketing. Demos and trade shows may be more appropriate for your business. Again, LinkedIn may work but you’ll also need to be very careful in segmenting your market so as not to waste your time on unqualified leads.

No Dedicated Resources

Social media is about community building and this takes time and consistent effort. If you ask your son to open for your business a Twitter account and you have no continuity plan to keep that channel alive, don’t even bother. The worst sort of business social media properties are the type that are so woefully inadequate in their design and support that you wonder why they even exist. If you cannot allocate resources towards this channel, direct your efforts where you can allocate resources.

Ambiguous ROI

Social media is one of the most inclusive media on the planet today so getting your message out there will be the easy part. Facebook and other platforms will offer you segmentation stats and performance stats but figuring out the exact dollars you are getting for every one you spend will be hard. This forces businesses to adopt the throw-things-against-the-wall-and-hope-something-sticks approach. Again, social media marketing takes time and effort and in most instances the results will be so ambiguous and indirect you simply cannot assign any meaningful ROI to anything you do. If you cannot measure your social media campaign’s ROI effectively, concentrate on other channels that are easier to measure because chances are, you are throwing cash away.

Social media has it’s huge draws but the drawbacks can also be significant. Trying to force SMM to work for your business isn’t a good idea. Neither is listening to all the hype about it. If your business fits any of these parameters, it’s time to reevaluate your SMM policies. It’s better to be left out of the hot new channel but save money and invest in other effective and tried-and-tested channels that work for your business. 

No comments yet

No comments yet. Start a new discussion.

Add Comment