Why Am I So Hungry?

The more I read from the social media experts, the more I realize that no one really understands what they are talking about. One day it’s about likes and retweets, the next it’s about having the perfect ratio of comments, links and replies, then it’s all about the quality of the content, or, worse, the quantity of content. Gurus are going to tell you when to post and how to post, but it’s not really going to work. It’s like going to an all–you-can-eat buffet and learning it’s filled with 18,000 different brands of diet food. Sure it probably won’t kill you but honestly you are still going to go looking for glazed donut flavored ice cream the minute you leave the restaurant.

I recently had a friend ask me why she thought her jewelry company’s Facebook page has around three hundred followers while her competition has many thousands more. Interestingly, her company is getting 30,000 hits to its website monthly, but that isn’t translating to Facebook numbers. Before I even started writing this piece, I forewarned her there isn’t a magic potion or silver bullet to getting Facebook fans and anyone who is promising to sell you a silver bullet is probably a freshly shaved werewolf. That being said there are probably a few things related to expectations that need to be considered as well as time and money related issues.

1. Are you getting a return on your investment?

The number one thing anyone working with social media struggles with is the ability to quantify the return on their marketing efforts. In the B2B space, this means determining whether you are generating leads using social media, and in the consumer space this means are you getting sales? Anyone that says social media is only for product branding is trying to sell you on their ability to get a job in marketing without being able to sell anything. At the end of the day, selling your products or services is the only reason to use social media for business. Engagement is nice, but so is having a car. However, a car on blocks in the front yard doesn’t get you to work. There are a lot of links on my friend’s website leading to the company’s online store, but this isn’t enough. The first thing I would do is generate either a Facebook-only promo code or a product link that is Facebook specific to see if Facebook posts are generating sales. From this they can get a sense to see if the social media marketing efforts are having any impact and understand if it’s worth the time they are putting into Facebook.

2. Is Facebook really a competition?

I didn’t spend hours agonizing about the choice of following the Summit Brewing Company or the Surly Brewing Company on Twitter and Facebook. I followed them both because I wanted to. I didn’t think to myself, “wow, I just followed one brewery and I’m exhausted, I guess I’m done with that market segment on social media.” Just because your competition has more followers than you doesn’t mean they are capturing your potential followers, or more importantly, customers. Sure they may have 7000 more likes than you, but if both of you have 200 actual social media customers then at the end you are even with them.

3. Are you trying to build a community or a launching pad?

In this instance, the Facebook page in question has the same format for nearly every post: a wall photo of a piece of jewelry, an interesting comment about the piece with the price, and a link back to the sale website. If your intent is to get people to like and stay on your Facebook page, don’t immediately give them a reason to leave your page. Similarly to a restaurant without tables (I’m writing this after lunch so I’m as baffled as you are by all the food metaphors), you aren’t going to make any extra beverage sales by sending your customers away to eat a slice of pizza on the street. If you want a community, you’ll need a different tack than just posting your specials—that being said, if you are already getting a return on your investment then maybe your strategy is working.

4. Give people a reason to click

My friend’s organization included links to Facebook with every email and likes for everything on the website. However, if there isn’t a compelling reason to like or click through people aren’t going to do it. Just because you have set up a page and plastered an icon everywhere doesn’t mean people are actually going to click. In other words, just because Bravo has another cake-cooking competition, doesn’t mean I’m going to watch. I need a reason to watch. I might think those cakes are delicious, but I have no motivation to tell anyone about it. Give your audience a reason to like something and they will. I don’t have a magical solution for this one, but think about what marketing techniques work for you today and apply those strategies.

The net is, when it comes to social media marketing, a competitor isn’t necessarily the best yardstick to see if you are doing things correctly. With so little real understanding of how to navigate the social media space successfully (beyond historically successful marketing techniques) it’s probably better for an organization to look to case studies and examples of successful social media campaigns and emulate those with your own organization’s unique spin.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I apparently need to go hit the vending machine for an afternoon treat.

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