And most companies selling social media marketing either don’t know what they’re doing or they’re selling snake oil.
Want to know why hyped-up social media is more noise than value, and what you should be focusing on instead? Read on…
Let Them Talk About You
First, you don’t need to have a Facebook page to have your website or company talked about or liked on Facebook. And your business can be spread on Twitter without having a Twitter account.
Social networks are places where “friends” go to talk and share. If you provide something of value that people want to talk about, they will. And not only would it be better for people to share your website instead of your social media page, where a visitor is far more likely to “convert”, but spending money and time on your own business is a better use of resources.
Lots of Noise, Little Value
People with active Facebook and Twitter accounts are bombarded with messages. Your messages are likely to get lost in the noise. And even if you do get traffic from social media, it’s horribly unprofitable traffic.
Facebook and Twitter are designed around a high quantity of low quality messages, where a user’s attention quickly shifts from one blurb to another. And this is reflected in social media referrals. Anyone who monitors their analytics knows this. A site with a 15% bounce rate (number of users who arrive and quickly leave) from both natural and paid search will notice their bounce rate shoot up to 80-90% during social media referral spikes. Visitors coming from social media are like squirrels on crack.
Yet, you still hear stories of great social media success. Then again, what you don’t hear about are the vast numbers of failures. But of the successes, how successful are they?
Social Media Success or Flawed Metrics?
Most of the success stories are based on meaningless metrics. Businessweek’s Larry Popelka claimed in his article GM Doesn’t Get Social Media that “Ford has more than 1.5 million ‘likes’ on it’s Facebook page, vs. fewer than 400,000 for GM”. So what?!? A fake company can generate 3,000+ likes in 4 days for $60, and it would be easy to do a multiple of that. Even Facebook admits that not all likes are legit. And for the likes that are legit, what Larry doesn’t seem to understand is that likes don’t put money in the bank.
What You Should Be Doing Instead
The biggest problem with social media marketing is opportunity cost. No individual or company has unlimited resources. In a reality where resources are limited, does activity on social media mediums like Facebook and Twitter lead to more profit than the alternatives? I’ll answer that. No.
Robert Wynne from Forbes agrees:
“There’s only so many hours in the day. You can spend time meeting reporters, crafting your message and getting placements in major media or your local publication, or you can type the keyboard for hundreds of hours hoping someone “Likes” your brilliant post on Facebook or follows your wickedly awesome tweets on Twitter.”
There are PLENTY ways you can spend your time that produce more value for your business or website than on Facebook or Twitter.
Email and RSS: Far Better Alternatives
For communicating with your customers, email and RSS/blog subscriptions are much better options. Instead of working on and promoting your Facebook and Twitter pages, work on your blog or newsletter and promote them. Email referrals have FAR higher conversion rates than social media referrals, and people who subscribe to your blog via email or a feed reader are going to be much more engaged listeners.
You’re better off working on and increasing the value of your own business, website, or blog than being a source of user-generated-content for the social networks.
Real Social Networking
Real social networking is about active communication with your community or customers. It’s about building real relationships. And you’re not going to do that with Facebook and Twitter, at least not to the extent you could with your own website, email, or subscription to your blog or newsletter.
There are too many people on social media networks, blasting out a massive stream of noise you’re either going to get lost in or quickly glanced over by. But by writing useful or informative articles on your website, blog, or newsletter, you create relationships with people who want to come back for more. Spend time emailing people who run sites in your industry, comment on industry blogs, write guest posts for popular blogs in your niche. That’s real social networking that will create lasting relationships and value.
What do you think? If you’re using Facebook and Twitter for work, do you think you’re actually getting more value from those efforts than you could be by working on your website? Let me know in the comments.