With the increased suppression of organic reach for brands, people have suggested everything, from focusing on Facebook Groups only, to abandoning Facebook altogether. In my opinion, we all just need to take a deep breath and think objectively about what we're hoping to get from social media marketing.
Why does it exist? Why is your brand participating in the first place?
Now, this may not be a popular opinion with the social media purists, but social media marketing is MARKETING just like any other channel. The model is essentially to gather an audience, segmented by data, then sell things to that audience via advertising.
That’s the way the process works. Misunderstanding this dynamic will doom your social media efforts when it comes to business results.
So before I review the five main reasons that I see which lead to social media marketing disappointment, I want to make something very clear. Growing a social community and getting them to engage with your brand is very important. However, to act like doing so is the sole reason Facebook, Twitter or Instagram exist is simply ignoring reality. You need to have a multi-pronged effort that works to capture people’s attention, while also advertising to them in a value-based way. THAT is the power of social media.
Here are some of the key reasons why your social media marketing efforts aren't working out the way you'd hoped.
1. You’re Overestimating “Community”
Community building is important in social media marketing, however most marketers grossly misunderstand the type of community they are building.
When most social media marketers think of a social 'community', they imagine thousands of people gathered around their brand, patiently waiting for a piece of content to come out which will immediately improve all their lives. In reality, you're supposed to be showcasing the value of what your brand brings to the table in an educational, informative and value-driven way, in the hope that your community will choose YOUR BRAND when a need arises.
We have to stop pretending that people really want to be friends with brands. If you're a social media marketer and disagree, quickly try to recall the first and last names of the actual people in your community. You probably can’t.
Once we all get a realistic understanding about what TYPE of community we're trying to build, and WHY we're building it, the results of our social media marketing efforts will improve.
2. You Aren’t Advertising
I'm still baffled at the amount of “marketers” who are averse to social media advertising - it's literally the most cost-effective way to reach a targeted group of consumers.
The free ride is over, and really, it has been over for a long time. While not every business has a large budget to invest in advertising, a little can go a long way with social media.
We strongly urge brands to pinch off some budget and test social advertising. If you don’t, be ready for a lot of disappointment when it comes to your social media marketing results.
3. You Get Distracted by Flashy Tactics
If you value tactics over strategy, you're doomed to fail. No amount of “hacks” or “tricks” are going to scale for your business in social media.
You need to start with the goal of your efforts and work backward, fleshing out a strategy that'll help you achieve your business goals in a cost-effective way.
Realize that everything you do takes time, and that you must asses the amount of time you'll sink into an activity versus what it'll give you. You know, the old ROI conversation.
Be cautious of flashy tactics, they usually become obsolete quickly.
4. You Don’t Understand Data
One of the biggest potential weaknesses in any social media marketing strategy is failing to understand the data. If you can’t measure, analyze and react to the data created by your social activities, you're essentially flying blind.
While you're at it, you also need to invest time in understanding attribution models. The theoretical consumer process of 'see post', 'click link' and 'buy product' almost never happens. Consumers tend to bounce around before they purchase, and by not understanding the data behind how your audience shops, you may misinterpret the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Get familiar with Facebook Insights, Facebook Analytics (from the Pixel) and Google Analytics so you fully understand exactly what your efforts are producing.
Success with social media marketing isn’t only about Likes, engagements and shares - in fact, these stats alone are largely irrelevant to your broader business goals.
5. You Act Like a Big Brand – You’re Not
If you're modeling your social media marketing strategy after Coca-Cola or Nike, you're probably way off the mark. Top companies like these have built brand equity over decades, and unless you're prepared to go to market with immense budgets, trying to borrow ideas from them likely won't work.
Small to mid-market businesses have to work extra hard (and smart) to cut through the noise on social media. Never ever assume that people simply know you, and that they'll automatically understand what you're trying to accomplish. Be realistic, be humble and go to market with a scrappy and smart plan to build your brand every day.
You cant skip years of brand building and hope that assumed brand equity is going to bode well for your business. Spend the time and money building awareness, and prospecting new clients. With time, your brand will grow.
Once you stop making the above mistakes, you'll surely see slow and steady improvement for your social media efforts. Its time to actually use social media for marketing.