Social Media is not what you think: Digital reality check

Social Media – A digital reality check 

I’ve been involved in online and Internet marketing for over a decade. I’ve executed paid search campaigns that have delivered 6 to 1 for every dollar spent…and 25 to 1 for every dollar spent. I’ve seen first had the impact of search engine optimization and the positive impact it can have on a website. This isn’t about me or what I’ve done for clients…not at all. This about giving social media a new name. Giving social media it’s due justice. The justice it deserves is a slow and painful death. I say draw and quarter the concept while we still can. Why would I say that? It is a little medieval is it not?

Social media is about communication. It is about listening. It is about providing something to your audience without the expectation of getting a sale in return. Social media is not about ‘media’ but about how we are interacting with one another online via new platforms. There is nothing new today that wasn’t in the Internet either in 2007 or 2005. It’s just become bigger.

Social media is thrown around and gets way more coverage than it deserves. Based on a recent article[s] from Search Engine Watch, social is a poor traffic driver at best and based on the traffic it does provide, it has very poor conversion rates. Typically, I’ve seen clients with conversion rates well below 1% and have never seen conversion rates above 1%. Optify has B2B conversion rates slightly higher at 1.22%. But this is still pretty low and what is the ROI for the effort? Internet visitors use the various search engines to find what they are looking for.

They use social media sites to [wait for it]…be social. They are not going to these locations to buy or be sold anything. Communication and being social is the primary goal and primary use for social outlets. That is not a complicated notion to understand. As such, using a direct marketing approach is not going to work with these outlets. Social media is nothing more than a way to communicate online. Social media is all about transparency  communication  community development, and sharing with others without the expectation you will get anything back. Is that so wrong? Not at all.

However, all of the major media outlets would have you believe that social is the silver bullet to attracting new clients and customer. The data does not support this theory. In fact, the data is showing that for small business owners, social media can be a colossal waste of resources. If there is no solid return on investment…why invest in social media? You shouldn’t.

Does this mean that you should avoid social media all together? No. It means you should use it the right way. Search engines are now looking at social media factors. Use your social media profiles to do the following:

  1. Protect your brand. If you don’t take control of your social profile your competitors may do it for you. Take over your profiles but do so if the locations house your target audience. 
  2. Use social media to provide useful information and content for your visitors, followers, and fans. Not to push your products and services.
  3. As share is worth more than a like. Thus – it is good form and practice to create shareable content.
  4. Be found on social networks. With Facebook’s Graph Search and more content being indexed by the search engines, it is best to be on Facebook, Twitter, and other online locations…if only to be found and have a link.
  5. Use social media as a communication tool and a listening platform. You may be able to learn a great deal from your clients and customers if you listen. Speaking delivers much less information than listening.

I encourage you to do the research on your own. Advertising budgets that are spent on social media is a mistake. Advertising budgets that create whole teams for the sole purpose of reaching out via Facebook and Twitter are NOT delivering a return based on the effort. BJ Mendelson has written the definitive book on the subject: Social Media Is Bullshit. It is worth the read and truly worth the time.

Don’t buy into to the hype and wonder where your advertising dollars went. You are much better off using pay per click advertising, display, or re-targeting. Save your energy, resources, and efforts for the real battles. Social media is really social communication…nothing more…nothing less.

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