In a very recent Econsultancy/Adobe survey, marketers were very excited about social media as an opportunity (54%) for their business or their clients. More than mobile optimization (38%), content optimization (37%), conversion rate optimization (31%), brand building/viral marketing (27%), or video marketing.
But the most interesting part of the survey was that had low expectations for social media to generate revenue. According to MarketingCharts.com:
Among company and agency respondents, almost half said that social media has added many more programs and goals, but not the revenue to support new hires
Still, many of these global marketers still planned to forge ahead with social media – even though it was not creating direct revenue.
So, quite a few professionals don’t believe that social media will help your bottom line. Does that mean that small or medium-sized businesses should ignore it?
Research has shown that getting a prospect or customer to “Like” you on Facebook or “Follow” you on Twitter will not, more than likely, lead to a sale.
Is it enough to spend time and money managing your social media campaigns simply to have a social presence or generate a bit of web traffic?
I believe it is.
The first reason to have social media accounts is that you’re creating an online presence on the most powerful and popular sites in the world. Having a Facebook page with a static link back to your site, plus links within your status updates, is a good thing for SEO purposes. And having links from all the campaigns (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, et al) help promote your website which can move you up the ranks organically and help give you more traffic and generate more sales. It should be part of your link-building strategy.
Second, you have to use social media in the right way for it to be effective. Simply having accounts doesn’t help. Trying to sell to prospects with every Twit or Status Update doesn’t help. And telling people where you’re going for lunch is a waste of their time and yours. Use your social campaigns to pass on useful information, great news that will affect followers, or just be entertaining (if you can make them laugh without offending, they’ll remember you and your business when they need you.) Use these platforms to pass along exclusive discounts or deals, if you can. Provide powerful insights and knowledge so you can prove your thought leadership and expertise. This is what people want from businesses on social media. That leads to sales.
Finally, really try to find out if social media is working or not. Make every effort to track conversions from social media. Whether you’ve got an e-commerce site with direct sales or you simply have people entering e-mail addresses to register for your newsletter, make sure you put tracking code on your “Thank you” page. No matter what analytics system you use (and you should be using one – at least Google Analytics, since it’s free!), there is usually a way to track conversions. Set a goal for whenever someone completes your Call-to-Action. At the end of every month, you can check your Traffic Sources. It will show you where website visitors came from. You can usually check here if any of those visitors completed any conversions.
Social media is all the rage and it won’t be going away anytime soon. But I’ve seen many people give it up because it can take up a lot of time and doesn’t seem to lead to more revenue. But simply because you cannot track it doesn’t mean it’s not going to work at some point. And you need to be doing it right for it to be effective.