So, its a couple of months in with your new online marketing agency, and youre not so sure about this social media thing. Youre looking at a report with fancy graphs and numbers, and terms that mean absolutely nothing to you.
It sure is.lets look at some questions you might ask regarding possible reasons youre not seeing the return you expected from social media.
Is it Too Soon?
Has it been less than six months since you started? Give it time. As long as you are seeing some action, keep it up. Dont become a person who says, I tried it and it didnt work! without giving it a chance.
Are You Expecting Too Much?
I know, it sounds like a cop-out, but, perhaps because social media has been touted by some experts as a sort of magic bullet, your expectations may have been too high. You may also be comparing it to other more traditional media (or trying to replace all your other marketing). This can lead to a problem when you are spending $2,000 a month on social media and $20,000 a month on PPC. You simply cant expect the same results. The good news is that over time, your social investment will actually decrease the amount you need to spend on PPC.
What Are You Measuring?
The return on social investment cannot always be solely measured by direct traffic, or even by direct sales. One of the benefits of connecting with people on social is that, over time, it affects their purchasing behavior. In fact, 97% of people surveyed said that their purchasing decisions were impacted by an online experience. Seventy eight percent of respondents in a Market Force study said the posts by companies they follow on social media impact their purchases.
Social media can also be a great customer service platform. While this is more of a soft metric, you may see the number of returning customers increase as loyalty is built through superb customer service on social media.
It is impossible to capture the direct correlation of social media activity to purchasing, or even to website traffic. A fan or follower might have interacted with you on social for months before then going directly to your website to make a purchase. If nothing else changed (as in, you didnt also double advertising or lower your prices considerably) when you started becoming social, however, you should be able to watch your sales slowly rise as you gain traction.
How Are You Measuring Your Return on Social Media?
Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, Twitter and Pinterest analysis can tell part of the story, but to really see the impact, you need to set up some of your own tracking devices.
A great way to track sales from social media is to use social-only discount codes or blow-out specials that are only shared on social media. When an order is placed or a service is scheduled, ask for that code, or keep track of how many blow-out items or services are purchased. Compare that to recent sales volume on that item. Did you know that 36.9% of Facebook users and 43.5% of Twitter users said they connect with brands using social media to stay in the loop on special offers? (source) Lets give the people what they want!
Some businesses depend on phone inquiries to increase sales. Are you tracking calls that come right from social media sources? An easy way to do this is to get a virtual number. Theyre not expensive, and often provide robust reporting to show how many calls came in, what the duration was, etc. We recommend Freedom Voice to our customers.
Are You Holding Up Your End of the Agreement?
Your contract with your marketing agency may have included a (Your Company Name) Will: section (ours do). These are included because social cannot be successful without a true partnership between company and marketing agency. Your lists of tasks may include items such as:
Supplying social-only discount codes and specials.
Sending email campaigns with encouragement to follow social profiles online.
Adding social links to your website and email signatures. Especially if you are paying for AdWords or other online ads, you should make it easy for THOSE visitors to find you on social this can even reduce how much you need to spend on ads over time.
Encouraging staff members to interact on social in order to get things going.
Sending images or videos for use on social.
Allowing access to key personnel for updates and behind-the-scenes reports.
Have you done all that? If your agency isnt asking for any of that, you can be sure they would still be happy to receive it and put it to use. Well, they should be, anyway!
Are You Using The Wrong Platforms?
A good look at your target audience, compared with the strengths and demographics of social media platforms should give you some idea of which social platforms will work best for you. If one in particular is not producing results, consider letting it go and spending that time and/or money on another platform. While analysis and proper planning are crucial, there is no substitute for real-world experience. So, if youve really given it your best try, move on to something else. There are many social media platforms specific to niches (cat-lovers, real estate, design) that might work better for you than the mainstream big guys.