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Why social media is not the Big Mac and Fries of marketing.

We work with many small and medium businesses to help them with their social media and digital marketing. We know from our own experience that social media is a great tool for increasing awareness, driving traffic to your website, and ultimately promoting sales for your business. The problem is, in our instant age, some people want it all... Now! 

Social media works, but like all good things, it comes to those who wait.

Here's the deal. If your businesses is poor, has terrible customer service and doesn't want to succeed, social media will only let people find out faster. If your business is great then social media will drive more customers to your door, but then your business will have to turn them into customers. 

Social media is not the quick fix to all your problems, and it’s certainly not going to make a silk purse from an ageing sows ear, especially if you're telling porkies online, and promising things you can't fulfill. 

That said, it can and will help you if you're ready to allow it.

So how long is a piece of social media string? 

We’re often asked that golden question: "How long will it take?" I'll be honest, I don't know. You might get a brand new customer or lead within minutes of joining social media, or it might take the three months it took me, way back in 2011, when I started for my then-employer. Because of this I always tell our clients and our workshop attendees that social media has a "three month hill". We think you need to work at it for three months, building your following, gaining likes and creating meaningful and engaging content so that people start to notice you and your brand. Like any hill, you have to work to get up it. You have to pedal your services and your brand hard before you can relax and coast for a while. 

I guess the real problem is that everyone is talking about it, everyone with a business is hearing about it, and to some extent people are asking for help with social media because they're so sick of being told to join it. It’s a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.

Last night I watched a very interesting Dispatches programme ‘Celebs, brands and fake fans,’ which was about buying likes and paying or bribing celebs to tweet nice things about a brand. #FakeFans unearthed the darker side of the industry we now find ourselves in and was quite shocking. The Dispatches program showed how the quick fix society was trying to cheat the social media system, and some to devastating effect. Gaining 10s of 1000s of likes in a blink of an eye, but merely paying a ‘click farm’ company for likes.

Professionally outsourcing your social media is something that some companies need to do. They don’t have the time or skills to succeed, and I’ve realised that many just don’t have the resources. 

So... if you want loads of likes, what’s wrong with buying them?

Here’s why. WarwickTweetup have 177 Facebook likes - not many really, but we do concentrate way more time on Twitter. That said, this week we have 102 people talking about us. Last night I found a UK Facebook page with 42,749 likes. “Wow! Nice work!” you think. Until you look at those likes. They are a UK page, aimed at the 30-50 age group, yet the majority of their likes are from ‘people’ aged 13-17 (meaning they can’t even buy their product) and live in Mexico! Wow, that’s very targeted, isn't it!? But you could argue that they could still gain more likes and shares of their posts, get more engagement, right? Well they don’t. With only 12 people talking about them, it’s clear their numbers don’t add up.  

Facebook farming doesn't work

Social media only works if you have the following criteria:

  • Targeted fans. (That’s people actually interested in your stuff.)
  • Engagement. You need to build a relationship with those fans.
  • Focus. A clear plan and strategy for your social media journey.
  • Knowledge. You need to learn your tools and your playing field.
  • And lastly... patience! Social media will work if you put the effort and focus into it.

Not everything in life can be an instant success, and sometimes buying your way to the top only leads to a very swift fall from grace.

If you need help making the most of social media, and prefer to be the social media savvy tortoise, not the fast food hare, then talk to us. 

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My name is Graham Todd and I’ve been immersed in social media for almost three years. I train, blog and manage social media for business.

Find me on Google+

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