Social media can be a spectacular way to promote your brand and generate revenue, or it can be a colossal waste of time that holds you back. Here are telltale signs social media is hurting you more than helping you, and how to set things right.
Signs of a Social Media Marketing Mess
Within the realm of social media marketing, on the platforms themselves, these are the signs that you are wasting your time rather than furthering your business objectives:
You spend a lot of time conversing with your social media contacts, but seldom if ever get leads, referrals, partnership inquiries or revenue-generating communication of any kind.
You share tons of content, your own and other people’s, diligently and frequently, but seldom get any response or re-shares.
You have all the right social media share buttons in all the right places on your blog posts, but seldom get people to actually use them.
Your number of followers goes up steadily, but engagement is minimal or non-existent.
Your number of followers is going down.
You spend a lot of time on social media (say, two hours a day or more), and even so, some or all of the situations described above apply.
Especially if you are spending a considerable amount of time on social marketing and these situations exist, you are not only wasting time in an unproductive area, you are as a result not spending enough time on other areas that are productive. If you dedicated the time to, say, sales prospecting on the phone, you could generate very good leads and referrals. If you dedicated the time to scrutinizing the steps of your operations process, you could generate efficiencies and cost savings.
Mending the Mess
Businesspeople get sucked into a social media mess for a variety of reasons. Among the most common:
They treat social media as a safe zone, where they can have friendly conversations with peers rather than deal with uncomfortable work such as selling, or tedious work such as reviewing balance sheets.
They have vague, hard-to-measure “objectives” for their social media activities — objectives such as expanding brand awareness and establishing “thought leadership.” Now, there may be merit in these objectives, but without discipline and measurement, the degree of merit will never be known.
They are dabblers that enjoy playing on all the social media platforms, because they are interesting and new. While experimentation and openness to new ideas are excellent qualities in a business professional, unless there is also a system and strategic plan, flitting around from one platform to another will never produce concrete business results, except by rare accident.
The solutions to social media marketing problems are suggested in the three conditions outlined just above.
If you are overinvested in social media because it is your safe zone, be rigorous in scheduling specific times to attend to those necessary but unpleasant chores on which the success of your business hinges.
If your social media marketing goals are vague or absent altogether, set goals, identify KPIs, and review performance data at least monthly. If you are not seeing improvement in those KPIs over time (3-6 months is a good place to start), then revise your social strategy and/or tactics, or devote less time to social and more time to some other type of marketing.
If you are a dabbler, take a long hard look at where you are getting results and where you are not. Cut back or eliminate social platforms that contribute little or no business return. When you jump into the next new social platform, start right, with goals, KPIs, continual review and a beta-test mentality.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, one of the leading Internet marketing companies in Chicago that offers SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur and Smashing Magazine.