I love social media. I always have - even when it was weird and disjointed.
I mean, I looooove social media, even back in the day before that term had ever been conceived. I used to hang out in AOL chat forums, and was an early adopter of Friendster. I fought Facebook out of loyalty to Myspace, but eventually gave in, like everybody else, when MS became overrun by ads. And I have an eBay account that dates back to 1997 - which hooked me because of the social rating system. I joined LinkedIn March 26th, 2006, and dedicated myself to recruiting all of my co-workers and clients.
The point is that I have seen a lot of social media platforms come and go, and others that have evolved from ideas out of college dorm rooms, to possibly the most powerful educational and communication tools ever in existence.
And you're doing it all wrong.
Why social media marketing, anyway?
I remember the first one that really grabbed me was classmates.com. I had a weird fascination with that one, actually. I remember signing up, creating my free account, then stalking it as people from high school joined one by one. See, I wasn't particularly popular growing up (not that I am now either), and I pretty much lost touch with all of my friends and acquaintances when I moved to Orange County to go to college.
Social media gave me a weird connection to others who didn't know me from high school, when I still had no sense of myself yet. It allowed me to be me or anybody I wanted to be without judgment or having to deal with awkward social settings.
Today, social media has become a personal haven for social contact, both in my personal life and on the job. It's where I connect with prospective clients across the country or planet, and validate talent I'm bringing in to work for my agency. It's also where I debate with strangers and make and maintain quality connections with my family and friends.
It's also where I make money - and where my clients make money.
The question is, are you?... making money, with social media, that is...
If not, here's why:
1. Talking only about you doesn't work
I know you're great, and you have a lot to offer the world with your business, but don't lose sight of the actual social aspects of social media. If you're out there posting nothing but your blogs and/or advertisements, you're kind of missing the point, and people are smarter than that. Advertising isn't really all that welcome. Just ask Myspace what happened when it becomes to intrusive.
Social media marketing is more than just posting on the big 4 (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+) day in and day out. It's also about sparking up real conversations and getting involved in others'. For example, last week I published a post about the importance of the undervalued gem, Quora (5 Reasons Your Business Social Media Strategy Should Include Quora). Since then I have received dozens of visitors and a handful of quality leads.
And if you check out the answer I posted, you'll see that there is nothing salesy about it. It's a conversation, and I happened to have referenceable material on my website, and was therefore allowed to post a link to it. Ergo - traffic... Ergo - leads!
These offsite conversations allow you to reach people who are experiencing pains your business can resolve. But you have to let them talk to learn about them.
Another one of the ways we do that is enforcing a relatively strict posting policy using the rule of 10/4/1. For every 15 posts, they are broken down as such:
- 10 posts from 3rd parties (be sure to use their Twitter tags!)
- 4 educational posts of our own (blogs, infographics, etc)
- 1 advertisement
When you mix it up, you garner a lot more attention than when you just spew your corporate agenda on the world.
2. Bots are NOT your friend
Again, you should be social here, not looking for ways to cut corners. I can't tell you how many people are out there using the tricks and noisy nonsense that destroyed so many platforms in the past. And if you don't know what they are, I wrote about social bots and why they're a waste of money awhile back (The 4-Letter Word in Social Media Management by Orange Pegs Media).
Have you ever received a direct message after following somebody on Twitter? It comes to you all canned and generic... about how happy they are that you're following, then provides a link to their other social media profiles, or perhaps their website.
The first time I saw it, I thought, "oh, this is a pretty good idea, maybe I'll look into it." Then about 10 minutes later I wanted to through my Twitter out the window. They're predictable, annoying, and they're ruining Twitter.
It's so bad now, that if you're really active on platforms like Twitter, you'll stop paying any attention to your inbox, because it will become so littered with this bot-driven spam, that digging through it will just make you mad.
"Hi, nice to meet you (thanks for following)! BUY MY GUM!"
Blech, no THANKS!
MORE LIKE THIS: Stop Cold Calling Me!
3. You shouldn't focus on followers
What's wrong with wanting 100,000+ followers on Twitter or 20,000 likes on Facebook? Well... nothing, I guess... or it does... it depends, actually. Ask yourself this, what exactly are you going to get out of having those numbers?
I know you keep seeing the "buy 10,000 followers for $100" ads... So, do they actually help? Seems like a good investment if you could turn any of those into customers, right? Well, too bad; you can't, because they're all fake - nothing more than smoke and mirrors meant to make your social klout look more impressive than it actually is.
Okay, well what about trying to attract real followers? Can't that be a good goal?Sort of - the problem isn't in the act of receiving a follower or like, but rather, that the emphasis is being placed there rather than fulfilling different roles in the sales process that have meaningful and tangible outcomes.
For example, you don't need to have ANY followers on Quora (What's Quora? Only the best unheard of social media marketing platform that my agency, Orange Pegs Media, actively uses for our clients to attract leads) to write a post or to get it seen. But you DO need a plan for how to direct eyes from your answers to your website, and you need another plan to turn those eyes into leads.
Don't get me wrong - I totally agree... followers, real followers, are good to have, but you will attract them naturally if you post good content and get involved in others' stories. This is why you should focus on quality contact first.
4. It's not ALL you need
Another big problem is that you're placing too much responsibility on your social media program, and expecting it to perform miracles. Sorry to say, but it's highly unlikely that you'll get what you need by spending all of your time there.
Social media plays an important role in the sales process, but there has to be a hand-off, and I don't mean straight to sales. It's too aggressive and very off-putting. But if you're able to divert traffic from your social media channels to your website, then you should be able to convert that traffic into leads with calls-to-action, landing pages, and gated content offers.
Think of it as a relay race, and social media is running the first and last legs, but there is still a lot of ground to cover.
5. Choose the right channels
I've heard a lot of people make the case for NOT being on LinkedIn or Google+, such as, "we're direct to consumer," "we're e-commerce," "health and wellness is not professional enough," and "who uses Google+?"
We have a food B2C food products client that manufactures a grain that is comparable in health benefits to quinoa and brown rice. In fact, it kind of puts those grains to shame when compared side by side. Initially, the consensus was that we'd be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. LinkedIn and Google+ weren't even a thought.
But why not? When we dove into our actual personas and determined that health and nutrition experts would be one of our big targets, that's when it clicked that we'll probably run into business owners in those categories on LinkedIn. In fact, a LOT of professional influencers in healthy foods can be found there. No, they're not looking for recipes, but they are looking for a good story.
Well, the platform itself is not a favorite of mine from a UX standpoint. But in relation to SEO, that's a different story. Google LOVES its Google+, and will actually surface your posts before your website in some search queries.
Here is an example of how sneaky and awesome Google+ actually is (as well as Quora toward the end). This is three months worth of data from my inbound marketing agency, Orange Pegs Media.
Publishing: Twitter takes the commanding lead on volume over all the others
Twitter is also the most active in terms of interacting:
And just about ALL fans are coming from... yes, Twitter
But not traffic!
Or LEADS, for that matter!
So, what's wrong with focusing on followers? Well, nothing... I suppose, if you can find a way to pay employees and vendors in followers instead of cash.
6. Consistency is key
We make our own luck. If you want to be in the right place at the right time, don't take your foot off the gas at any point. If you compare the dips in traffic to the other metrics, you'll see some interesting recurring patterns.
7. It can't be ALL ads
One common complaint we had about Myspace (right before it imploded) was that advertising was running rampant, and it was overwhelming the user experience.
The other major platforms learned from this, and are surviving and thriving because they don't let pop-ups ruin the experience. Simple is better. Conversational advertising, not disruptive, is a LOT better.But that's not to say that you shouldn't run ads for followers and/or clicks. It just means that it shouldn't be your only source of interest-generation. It's also to say that without a plan to convert beyond likes and follows, you're really just buying notoriety - and that's really hard to convert to cash. Leads, on the other hand, are a little bit easier.
I love social media, because I love connecting with people in ways that are personal, helpful, and fun. Social selling doesn't feel like work to me, because it really is about being social - something we all crave - something your prospective customers crave as well.
If we're engaging in activities we know we'd be receptive to, then it's probably the right way to go! If you're not sure because you're not on even on Facebook, maybe it's time to give in and see what all of the fuss is about. 1.5 billion active users and counting can't be wrong!
Interested in assessing your company's opportunities with social media marketing? Schedule a free consultation with Orange Pegs Media today!