Is social media for business hype over substance?

Since its inception as a way to hook up to college girls, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has literally become the world’s most popular website.

Often touted as the place to be to promote your business, but does this crown really hold up to the evidence?

Build and they will come

Since marketers have seen the internet as a source of unimagined wealth, ideas about how to make money on the internet are rife. Most revolve around the concept of the lazy millionaire, or to put into plain language, doing little for a huge reward.

This is not new and not even limited to the internet. And time after time, the quick fix millionaire idea is shown to be flawed. And To be brutal often the only people who make the money are the people who sell the ideas.

For all successful business’s there tends to be a common thread

Work hard + offer a great service = a good profit

Where business move away from this maxim, they often either don’t survive or look to chase short cut after short cut to cover the same ground as more experienced businessmen.

So is all Social media hype?

To understand how social media work (or does not work) for business you need to look at your aims and goals…

For all business, their purpose is to make a profit. Profit pays for talent and business growth, without this a business will struggle or fail.

With all channels of marketing the aim is to find a prospect and convert them to a customer.

For a smart business it’s not good enough just to through money at marketing, but they also require evidence that the marketing has worked.

In traditional advertising this was often done with an offer code, and in many cases this is still the case.

With this data a business can determine how much a client costs and through this analysis it allows a business to make sensible decisions about its offline marketing.

For social media to work in the business, the same ideas have to follow.

Cast your advertising net -> convert to an enquiry -> make a sale -> measure the conversion cost -> tweak and repeat.

CTA in an online world.

Most companies still misunderstand the nature of Social Media, they misperceive the beast and just assume by having a Facebook profile that sales will increase…

For sales to increase in the Facebook world, you need to get people to have a reason to ‘like’ your page. With this ‘like’ you then have a channel to send status updates.

Status updates need to give the ‘liker’ a reason to take advantage of your service and to know if the exercise was worth doing, you need a way to measure this conversion.

Without the above in place Social Media will not work in the long-term.

The resource of social media

Any activity in business can be considered as a use of resource. For this purpose resource should been seen as time and/or money.

With Social Media, although it is seen as free, the time associated with it has an indirect cost on your business.

For instance, if your time is worth £120 an hour, every hour you are on social media you are costing your business £120.

This needs to be factored in when determining how much resource to throw at social media.

Although you should not ignore it, if other channels are more cost effective, channel the majority of your resource budget in that direction.

Social Media and big business

It often makes sense to look at what larger companies are doing with regards to marketing. Only ever re-invent the wheel when no one has ever thought about the wheel.

There have been several cases recently where advertising has been dropped, either through a bad reflection of image, or the in-ability of business to leverage social media to generate sales.

Specifically GM finally decided to drop its Facebook advertising campaign when it came to light they had not sold a single vehicle via this medium.

Social media businesses

Another factor which is often forgotten (often with Facebook) is the actual idea of a social network.

Companies which do best on social media are those who are social in nature. Or to put it bluntly, if you’re a baker, showing your cupcakes will gain you interest, I have never seen an undertaker have the same effect.

In conclusion

Social media can be a great way to promote your business, but with all form of marketing make sure you are clear for the reasons you’re doing it and have a way to measure the outcome.

Be sure your business is ‘social’, or you have evidence that social media will work for you before you bet the future of your company on it.

By following both rules, social media need not turn out the be the emperor’s new clothes.