Social media has been the buzz-word in online marketing for a few years now. Two billion people worldwide have an active presence on some social network or other. Of these, nearly 1.7 billion are active users on their various mobile devices. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, not taking advantage of a channel that can reach almost a third of the world's population is just plain insanity.
However, while all the above statistics are optimistic and open up a world of opportunity for businesses, it's also true that many businesses have tried 'the social media thing' and are yet to see the kind of returns that it would have. Below are a few reasons why brands and companies aren't seeing the results they'd like.
Facebook is now pay-to-play
Facebook is by far the biggest social network, with more than 890 million active users worldwide and 1.35 billion users in total. Facebook earned revenues of nearly $12.5 billion in 2014, a large portion of which was from advertising. This is as a result of the drastic decrease in percentage of ads that can be viewed by followers and fans organically (free).
Facebook has been systematically decreasing organic traffic over time to a measly 1-2% currently. For business owners, this means that if you want to use Facebook to market your products and/or services, you must have an advertising budget. The advantage is that even small advertising budgets can have significantly large returns.
You're using "push" energy instead of "pull" energy
Many entrepreneurs think that social media is a fast and easy tool to get their products and services to a large number of prospective buyers, and then they get shocked when they discover it isn't as simple as they thought.
The problem with social media is that business profiles are too easily shunned. It's all too easy to unfollow, hide or ban any profile, and worse, users can just as easily report you as spammers. If you 'push' your content at people, you're more likely to attract the above actions rather than further your business goals.
For your social media marketing strategy to bear fruit, you have to pull your audience towards you, entice your audiences towards your products and services. Your messages and the kind of content you share within your social media networks will determine how effectively you are able to attract clients.
You are not giving useful, relevant content
This is an extension of the previous point - a great portion of pull marketing is to be consistently useful and relevant to your social media audiences. You must serve your social community consistently, even without the immediate assurance that they'll buy something from you. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it actually works, and here's how:
Suppose you own a business selling skincare products and providing skin beautification services, and you just recently wrote an e-book titled How to make your skin glow in 6 weeks. You invested in advertising on Facebook to target your audience and spread the e-book to interested users. You haven't pushed your products or business at them, you have simply been useful to them, by giving information they would find helpful.
Here's what will happen: some people will read your e-book, want to do the exact things you recommended, but then pay for you to do it for them. This is how usefulness drives pull marketing. There are many other ways to be useful on social media; find them and use them.
You want to do everything
The top 10 social networks collectively boast nearly 2.2 billion people as unique monthly traffic. Given this impressive statistic, it's only natural to want to spread out your wings to take advantage of as much of that traffic as you can. What most business owners forget is that it requires a lot of time and energy just to be consistently present on a single site.
To be effective, you need to find one or two sites where much of your audience spends their time, and then focus on generating, finding and spreading high quality, useful content to them, and meaningfully and consistently interacting with them. Social media marketing will never be served well by the 'jack of all trades' maxim. Find your niche, and be really good there.
You are not being authentic
Many people claim to be something they are not, and social media just makes that a tad too easy. People want to be considered hip, funny or cool so that others within their networks can like them, or at least envy them. Businesses have a harder task connecting, because people are generally skeptical about brands and advertising in general. Proving authenticity is a tall order.
Because your first allegiance is to your business, you'll try to find and share content you think falls within the purview of your customers' interests. You know that meme images and videos are huge traffic boosters, so you'll create your own memes and get cute pets to do stuff so that you can share it with your fans who will in turn share on their networks.
Sadly, that's not how it works. Before connecting with your brand or product, people will try to connect with you, depending on how you fit into the stuff they are interested in. People want to transact with people they feel they know, or at least people that those within their circles also know.
Take some time to humanize yourself before your consumers' eyes, and right at the beginning too. Think about your real interests, professional and otherwise, and build up 4-8 categories around those interests. From there, all content that you share should consistently fit within those categories, representing stuff you're actually interested in. Share what and how you'd prefer to be shared by another brand. Be real.
This creates an avenue for you to communicate authentically and generate meaningful engagement with your followers. In time, your audience will consider you a friend, and becoming your client will flow smoothly from there. Authenticity is the real superchip that drives social media marketing.