Written on September 9, 2016 by Stephan Wehner.
Your dedication to social media is near-religious: every day you faithfully post in regular intervals. Comments? Ha! This business actually engages with its customers. You’ve built a complex social network – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, heck even Snapchat. Yes, you’ve even reduced yourself to Snapchat.
And the result?
Where’s the raving crowds, demanding your product – your company name tattooed on their forearms – where’s the money?
Alas, you’ve been promised exposure on social media, yet all it has given you is an added tonne of work and a handful of Likes; most from your friends and family who saw your postings on Facebook. Sigh.
And so we must ask: Is social media worth the investment? Is it worth your time? Your energy? Your money?
I can’t answer that question for you.
But here are some ways of thinking about it: I’ll ask four Yes-or-No questions.
Keep a tab on how many times you answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
I am suggesting that the more you say ‘Yes’, the less you should invest in social media.
Well, here we go!
If yes – social media isn’t that important for you. Let’s say you run a bakery. If I want to buy your product I probably need to come over to your bakery and buy it in person.
Now, traffic is important for any business, but what matters more is the type of traffic. Social media is great for attracting traffic from many different places, but not so great for attracting local traffic, which is what you need!
If no – social media is possibly an important avenue of exposure for you. Maybe your business is an online graphic design company. Unlike a bakery, you don’t have customers walking by your bakery every day – you are limited to the Internet and the Internet only.
In this case, there aren’t many ways to attract traffic. You definitely must have a website. Maybe you could try online ads. What else? Well… you could roll up your sleeves and get to work on social media.
Key takeaway: Your business needs traffic to survive. Social media can help get you traffic, but not all traffic is useful!
A ‘one-off’ business is the kind of business where you rarely get the same customer. You’re there to help them with ONE thing instead of providing them constant service over a long period of time. Examples of this include car salespeople, interior designers, technicians etc.
If yes – you could possibly do without heavy investment in social media. Engaging your customers on social media is one way to keep them loyal, but if you’re a ‘one-off’ business, then engagement isn’t so important.
Say you’re a plumber. You go fix someone’s sink. Now think: after you fix their sink, do you think they want to have a close relationship with you on Facebook? Or do they just want to move on in life? Take a guess.
If no – engaging on social media might help your business. Take for example a cafe owner. Customers drop in, try his/her coffee, then go online like the cafe’s Facebook page. From time to time, they’ll get to see promotions you post on your Facebook page. Or maybe they’ll visit your page and see the latest item on your menu, which draws them to return to your cafe.
The point is that for this kind of business, social media might come in handy!
Key takeaway: Another thing to consider is engagement. Social media is great for engagement, but not all business need to engage this much with their customers
If yes – social media is slightly less important to you. One aspect of social media is that it helps alert customers to things they don’t even know they need/want yet. If your product is ‘obvious’, then you don’t need social media to help make the case for you.
This is why some food products suffer on social media. People don’t need to be convinced to buy food – they already know that food is something they need. Maybe if you’re a cafe selling a new organic GMO-Free chai latte, THEN things are different – people might not know that they want this kind of chai latte yet, so social media is helpful.
If no – you may need to ‘walk’ customers through the process and over time nurture them to see the need of your product in your lives. When it comes to selling some products, it’s a journey – not a one-time sales pitch.
If you’re a professional coach for example, social media becomes a great tool to ‘walk’ customers through before they buy. They may read your articles you link to on Twitter, or they may see comments from other customers on your Facebook page – all these things are a way of bringing your product to life before it’s sold. Over time, as they engage with your material on social media, they start to realize that they could get much more out of you – if they buy your coaching services.
Key takeaway: In other words, social media is great for nurturing customers. Some business don’t need to nurture much and hence, they don’t need to rely a lot on social media._
If yes – you probably don’t need to invest a lot in social media. Given that social media generates a lot of misses before you get a hit, heavy investment in social media might not financially viable – each lead costs too much to get, and the price of the product simply does not cover it.
For example, if you’re a writer that sells a $5 ebook, investing your money in Facebook might not be a good idea. To reach your audience, you may choose to advertise, which might cost you around $50 to get a customer or two. Or maybe you already have an audience on Facebook, and you’re about to launch a a new book. So to make sure your Facebook launch reaches as many people as possible, you pay for Facebook’s ‘Boost’ option which ensures your post gets read by people who already ‘Like’ your page. You end up paying $100 for, say, three or four customers in the end. Not financially savvy!
If no – you could probably invest a lot in social media and still breakdown. Now, instead of selling a $5 ebook, say you’re a top-notch sales consultant. One of your packages costs $5000. You spend $500 on advertising/’Boost’, or you may even hire a freelancer to manage your social media accounts for around the same price. Even if you spend a whopping $1000 to get one customer, that one customer will still earn you a profit of $4000.
Key takeaway: Social media requires a money/time investment. If the price of your product can’t support this investment, don’t bother.
In the end, how many times did you answer ‘Yes’?
If you have 4 ‘Yes’s, then you should severely limit your investment in social media – it probably isn’t worth it!
2-3 ‘Yes’s mean that social media won’t be too important in your business, but you can play around with the idea of investing in it.
0-1 ‘Yes’s indicate that social media does have some role in your business – consider investing in it, particularly if you didn’t answer ‘Yes’ at all!
On another note, you should definitely consider the social media platforms you’re using. If you’re trying to share articles or videos on Facebook – well, good luck. Social media is about vying for attention, and Facebook is an ultra-competitive place when it comes to fighting for the human attention span.
Not to mention that ads on Facebook are probably rigged. A simple page for your business usually suffices, if anything, just to accumulate Likes over time.
Targeted platforms are usually better – using YouTube for videos or Medium.com for articles allows you to work in-line with what your customers want. They don’t want an ad in their Twitter feed, but some of them definitely wouldn’t mind a good how-to guide on YouTube. People visit different sites for different reasons. Align your engagement with their reasons.
So, is social media worth the hassle?
Well, give it a try and see if you go viral!