How Long Does It Take for Social Media Marketing to Start Paying Off?

You’ve got your Twitter account going and you’ve made a few good jokes. You’ve garnered a few followers on Facebook. Every day, you put a little time into yours social channels. How long until you start seeing some actual sales or conversions?

“Marketers hoping for quick returns from their social media marketing will be sorely disappointed by the long-term plans required to fulfill those campaign goals,” writes Jonathan Crowl for Skyword.com. “Social media strategy can require years to take root and start generating returns.”

According to Crowl, almost half of marketers in a survey reported that they used social media for two years before they saw an impact on sales.

“Conversely, 49 percent of all marketers taking this survey report that social media has not helped them improve sales,” the report states. “This may be because they lack the needed tools to track sales.”

Tom Martin of Converse Digital says most social media marketing strategies tend to take about 6 months to see any pay off.  He writes, “Established brands by and large can expect a faster uptake in their social efforts. Likewise, consumer brands were seen as having a bit easier time than B2B brands, especially in niche verticals.”

Another source, James Parsons of Boostlikes, writes, “The shocking truth is, only 39 percent of small businesses ever see a return on their social media investment. Among them, 57 percent place the value of that ROI at under $1,000. Unfortunately, these days social media interaction is so necessary that you can’t just do without.”

Experts suggest that when you create your social media strategy you mix short- and long-term goals.

So what should your long-term goals be and how should you strive to achieve them?

According to PR Week, only 16 percent of overall marketing budgets are earmarked for digital. Those numbers are expected to rise and with greater investment, social media marketing has a greater change to thrive.

Crowl writes, “As Rebuild Nation’s CEO Josh Gershonowicz explained on The Huffington Post, strong social media ROI comes from two sources: content creation and content sharing.”

You need staff to create original, compelling content on a consistent timeline. Staff requires investment.

“Although social media is a slower process for generating ROI, content’s uphill battle is much shorter—creators expect their content to start generating returns quickly,” writes Crowl. “… Social media marketing can start generating value right off the bat, particularly in terms of increased brand awareness and customer engagement. More tangible ROI, however, often takes time.”

Personally, I’ve seen a great test case that showed very clearly a positive return on via an ecommerce site and social media marketing. A friend discovered some organic hair products produced in Vancouver that were only for sale in a few small shops and salons. He approached the owners of the company and suggested that if he created a website to sell the products online and a social media marketing campaign, their sales would grow exponentially. My friend’s cut: a portion of all the online sales.

My friend is a savvy content creator who really believed in the product. He put a year into the project and continues to create marketing materials, but he successfully lives off the income he generates.  

image via shutterstock.com

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