by Simon Reynolds
The buzz about the importance of social media is at crazy levels.
It seems everyone is obsessed with the desire to build out a powerful social media platform and campaign.
Certainly social media marketing is important. But it sure ain’t new. For centuries word of mouth has been both the most effective and the cheapest way to get customers, and social media is just a digital version of word of mouth marketing.
Now of course, it’s incredibly easy to put up a Facebook page, write a few posts and actually get some followers. This ease of creation and swift results has led to a passion for social media that is at massive levels and is increasing at an exponential pace.
But be careful. As the map makers of 500 hundred years ago used to say, ‘There be dragons here’.
There are three big mistakes that the majority of entrepreneurs are making with their social media that can endanger not just your company’s marketing, but the future profits of your organization.
Mistake 1: Spending Too Much Time Posting and Monitoring
Social media can be a huge time suck for entrepreneurs. Firstly, it’s always moving- every few hours someone has commented, complained or replied to what you’ve posted. This ever changing nature of social media is very,very seductive. It makes you feel like you have to always respond, always react. Pretty soon you’ve lost 90 minutes of your day handling it.
That’s a huge error. Social media is in the end just another marketing medium. It’s not the holy grail. It’s not a magic solution to your revenue woes. It’s merely another channel by which you can make contact with customers, deepen your relationship with them and hopefully inspire them to buy from you.
It’s important you don’t spend too much time on it. I suggest no more than 20 minutes each work day. Putting a time limit on your posting and monitoring will force you to be efficient and also leave enough time for you to work on the other vital marketing areas. Like email, print, your brochures, finessing your sales presentation,testing online ads, training sales staff, making your website more responsive, etc.
Spending any more time than that is in my view giving social media too much importance, for the reason that i’ll address next.
Mistake 2: Expecting Social Media to Generate Revenue
The world is littered with companies that went under while they were working on getting their sales from social media marketing.
Now don’t get me wrong: social media can be a highly potent marketing weapon. But here’s the cold, hard reality: I mentor many, many entrepreneurs and virtually none of them have been able to get people on their social media lists to actually write them checks.
Sure they’ll follow you, like you, even comment enthusiastically about how wonderful your products are, but getting them to buy from you as a direct result of what you post on social media is damn hard.
Now I’m generalising of course. I also work with entrepreneurs that are making a fortune from social media. But take it from me, they are a very small minority. Almost all entrepreneurs will find it way easier getting people to pay them money using other media, like email, telephone marketing,online ads, direct mail and website design.
So I advocate doing social media, for sure, just don’t expect your revenue to rise greatly because you are.
Mistake 3: Not Moving Your Followers To Your Email List
Here’s what most entrepreneurs don’t realize: If you have say 5000 people following you on your social media, you don’t own that list. Facebook, Pinterest or Linked In do. That can be dangerous.Your list may get deleted because of their error or as a result of cyber crime (it’s increasing at a worrying rate). Or the owners of those social media sites may change their policies, and start limiting your ability to post. (This has already happened. Did you know that when you do a business post on Facebook now, often only around 16% of your followers see it?). So leaving those precious names on social media sites is very risky indeed.
But there’s another reason you need to move them onto your own email list. Research shows that when you try to sell something to people who are on your email list, you usually get a better response than when you make the same offer on social media. There are all sorts of possible reasons why, but the fact is that email marketing is usually much more effective. How do you move them onto your email list? Just post a free report or offer some benefit to your followers – if they click on a link and leave their email address. If your offer is strong, you’ll get loads of people doing so, and voila, your email list will grow. Do this several times a quarter, and you’ll have the email addresses of many of your social media followers.
So in conclusion, yes social media is a fabulous marketing medium – it’s cheap, it’s fast and it’s highly engaging. But unless you avoid making the three mistakes mentioned above, it could also end up being a huge waste of time.