Sorry this may sound harsh, but I need to keep it real, social media marketing isn’t as easy as you think.
As we continue to ride this speeding social media train, there are just some hard-to-swallow truths that you need to understand before diving into your next campaign. Your aspirations of using social media to build a huge audience and to gain valuable customers are not out of reach, but success will not happen overnight.
When it comes to social, people tend to focus on the end results of their campaign before putting time and effort into the journey that’ll take them there. As a Social Media Manager at Socedo, I’ve realized over time that social media marketing needs to be integrated into our overall marketing plan. While certain posts do generate buzz immediately, social media is ultimately a long game.
Based on my experience, here are 5 harsh realities for you to grasp and how you’ll overcome them:
#1: Making fast money on social
You might be checking off all the boxes: Posting dozens of times each week, uploading engaging photos and interacting with your follows. But that doesn’t mean that customers and revenue will come to you instantly (wouldn’t it be nice though?).
Generating leads that could eventually become customers is achievable, but in most cases, you can’t get there with social media alone. Getting paying customers for your business takes time and ingenuity.
How to overcome it:
Instead of just focusing on how much money you’re making using social media, aim for measurable, consistent growth. Yes, social media does attribute to your bottom line, you should also recognize that it plays multiple roles at different stages of the buying journey. For example, many B2B buyers start their research process by looking for general information in their problem space on social networks like Twitter. As B2B buyers go further in their evaluation process and need to check on the credibility of the vendors they are considering, they turn to peer-to-peer social networks like LinkedIn.
When you think about your social media plan, come with a purpose and goals in mind. Do you just want to use social media to grow brand awareness? Do you need to generate leads? How will you measure what’s working?
The typical metrics like # of followers, shares, favorites, comments aren’t enough for you to know if social media is moving the needle on lead generation.
For example, instead of reporting just on how many links people clicked on social, you should also be tracking the click-through rate on how much traffic is driven by that click towards your landing page or website after. By tracking this metric, this will help you compare your sources to other sources of web traffic. If your social media bounce rate is lower than those sources, you can prove that you’re targeting the right people and the right traffic.
In addition, integrate your social media management platform with your marketing automation system (where your contacts live) – this will enable you to see how social touches each lead throughout the lifecycle. Accurate attribution is the first step to measuring ROI.
#2 Not everybody cares
According to Twitter’s Q3, 2016 earnings call, there are 317 million monthly active users currently on Twitter and average daily active usage grew 7% year-over-year. Growth of users on LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram are even higher. It’s tempting to believe that being on all of these platforms is the solution to getting a huge audience.
Yet, the truth is that your target audience is selective about where they hang out and why they spend time there. If you’re selling software to sales professionals, there’s no point in being on Snapchat as most users there aren’t in your target market and will not become your customers. Even if you are on the right social network where your target audience is active, you may still feel like you’re being forced to shout into a giant stadium and not getting people’s attention.
Lastly, social media networks come and go. In fact, Vine, the video-sharing app is shuttering after just three years.
How to overcome it:
Not everybody needs your product, so figure out where your target audience flocks to and focus your energy there. Identify those who are likely to be your customers and figure out how to start conversations with just them. Instead of trying to shout to an entire stadium of people, what if you had a map of the stadium, with pins identifying where each of your target prospects is sitting, plus a description on what each person is interested in?
In a sense, you already have this map. For example, Twitter provides a huge amount of public data on what people talk about and what they’re interested in. There’s tons of information that can be gleaned from people’s posts for you to start conversations with. Yes, it’s true that being on Twitter can feel like drinking from a fire hose, but you can cut through the noise by searching conversational (i.e. events, industry hot topics, influencers) and biographical keywords to identify your target audience.
Once you identify your target audience, visit their profile or follow them. When people decide to follow your business on social, they’re giving you the “go-ahead” on sharing content to their personal timeline. Someone who follows you on social means that they are interested in what you have to offer. Use these opportunities to catch your prospects’ attention and get them engaged.
For example, if you’re sponsoring an event and you find attendees who fit your ideal persona who are going to that event (i.e. based on searching for the event hashtag plus bio keywords), why not say “hi” in a Twitter direct message and invite them to your booth by offering to teach them something relevant?
#3 Success takes a long time
Organically, you’re not going to gain a million followers within a month just by sharing some interesting content and tagging your posts with different hashtags. Sure those are things that you should do, but now, many more businesses are seeking attention from the same set of people. With more brands shouting into the stadium, so to speak, prospects have become good at tuning out marketing messages.
How to overcome it:
Have you set realistic goals for your social media marketing effort? Depending on your goal, you’ll have to deploy different tactics, staff your team and allocate budget differently.
You need to define up-front what success means and how you’re going to measure success. What are the intermediate metrics you’ll use to see if you’re on the right track?
It takes a well thought out social strategy, consistent posting at the right hours of each day to even see some sort of success. It might even take several months or even years to finally come up with the most effective strategy that works best with your business and target audience.
Just remember that success on social requires commitment, patience and energy, just like a real human relationship. You should be regularly reviewing data and measuring how your effort is translating into results, from week to week.
For example, on a week to week basis, I am tracking:
- Total posts for the week, clicks, shares, likes and conversions
- Top performing messages based on clicks
- Top performing URLs based on conversions
- Website traffic coming from social
I know that our social media efforts are working as long as the numbers are trending in the right direction.
In addition, my colleague who oversees Demand Generation Marketing is doing analysis on how our database is socially engaging with our company and relevant topics and events in our space (#Inbound16, #DF16, @Marketo, @Hubspot, #contentmarketing, etc.) to see how prospects who are engaged on social are moving through our lead pipeline. We’ve found that socially engaged leads move 25% faster through our lead pipeline and convert 22% higher.
Lastly, it’s important to remember to stick with your strategy and be consistent.
It’s cool to try new things but don’t forget that social media moves fast and you have to stay on track, you don’t want to be constantly posting than disappear out of no where. People are going to wonder what you went and eventually forget that you even exist.
#4 You might have to pay for social success
Organic reach isn’t as effective on social as it once was before (not impossible though). Thanks to the large amount of content being created and curated on various social networks, it’s harder to get things out to the right people without putting some cash into it. Allocating money to promote your content through ads is the most effective ways to ensure that relevant people are seeing your stuff.
How to overcome it:
There’s a huge misconception that social advertising can be very expensive. Surprisingly, there is quite a wide range on how far your money can go, especially if you know who your target audience is. In this day and age, if you want your brand to make it and return some of your investments, you’re going to have to to understand that it goes beyond organic reach. Paid campaigns is where conversions are, you just have to play smart. Social ads are an effective way to generate leads and increase sales, and when you measure the ad success and understand the perks on each channel, you’ll see that the money is worth it.
#5 Social media is a big job
The perception of social media is usually thought out to be focused only on the fun aspects, but people who work in social media marketing should get more credit for what they do. Helping a company be successful, drive leads and gain new customers on social takes more time and skills than some may think. Personal skills, solid writing with editorial oversight, strategic alignment with business areas and the ability to interpret data are all required skills.
How to overcome it:
According to recent research from Demand Metric, companies that staff multiple people to managing social media tend to get results. You can start with one person, but you should eventually add resources to your team to get better results.
You must have a social media skill set to invest in the right people for this job and have a vision on how you see success. Have a clear communication when it comes to what you’re looking for when hiring someone to handle all aspects of social media and make sure they’re training, trying different tools and reading content to stay on top of everything social.
There are also tools out there to help you save time, by automating your social lead generation process. From social media management platforms, to social demand gen solutions, there’s simple solutions that can make your social team’s job more effective.
For example, using Socedo, you can automatically search and discover your target audience on Twitter based on their social profiles and real-time behavior (i.e. tweets, who they mention or follow). The software lets automatically engage with the leads the system suggests and then syncs their contact information into your marketing automation or CRM system.
Or, with a tool like Hashtracking, you can monitor different social conversations and see what topics are trending to help you plan your social media campaigns.
What are the social media lessons you’ve learned in your business? Share them with us below.