Give me dollar for every non-client who’s said “We’re seeing great numbers on our digital but it’s not translating into business,” and I’d be wealthy enough that I wouldn’t have to blog for a living!
But it’s a good question, really, it’s the KEY question that is both necessary for buyers to ask, and frustrating for digital agency owners to answer.
Why is it Frustrating & What’s the Damn Answer?
Because we know social works! I have seen success from social, my clients see success from social, but I do understand where the complainant is coming from.
There are four main reasons why social – even when it looks good on the surface – may not drive business, and the issue is that these four reasons are prevalent enough that those who fall into these traps spread skepticism that hangs over the industry like a black cloud.
If your social media numbers (think likes, follows and CTR rates) look good, here is the reason it’s still not driving business results:
Your Strategy is Messy Spaghetti
The Spaghetti method of social media allows our competitors to sell a lot of social media programs…
I’d say most social media companies out there are big fans of the spaghetti method. You know the saying: ‘Throw a bunch of spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks’, also commonly referred to as the ‘spray and pray’ method of marketing. Its’ the bane of the intelligent marketer’s existence!
The vast majority of people who are skeptical of social media rely on this method, or worse still, hire companies run by tacticians who wouldn’t know a strategy if it bit them in the ass. These business owners invest in their social program with hope rather than strategy, and unwittingly find themselves spending a lot of money on a program that just doesn’t stick.
No wonder they become so jaded!
Warning: Tough Love Ahead
There is a reason that these second-rate social media companies sell so many un-strategic programs:
Because the client is often impatient and wants to spend less money and see instant results.
Our social media skeptics tends to be the same men and women who hate the idea of investing in a strategy because ‘it takes too long,’ or ‘it’s a lot of money to spend for a document that’s going to collect dust,’ or my personal favourite: ‘why should I pay you to steal my watch and then me the time? *sigh*
But here’s the deal: If you really feel you need social (and never assume this, by the way) and you want your social to work in the long run, then you need to bite the bullet, hunker down, and get strategic.
What is a social media strategy (really)
A strategy is not just a document that says you should post on Facebook this many times and design graphics using these colours, etc. Those kinds of details are part of the strategy (under the section ‘execution plan’), but they are tactical and the strategy must go far deeper to ensure that the tactics you choose will drive results.
With a strategy, we look at your business and ask a ton questions to ascertain your strengths and weaknesses (situation analysis), your goals, and what objectives you need to reach to support those goals.
These objectives should have numbers and dates attached to them and they are foundational – the success or failure of your program will hinge on how well you’ve defined your objectives.
You see, if you haven’t taken the time to define how success will look, how will you be able to recognize it, let alone leverage it? You won’t, you can’t.
When companies tell me their social isn’t working, yet they have set no clear objectives, I ask them how do they know? Their social may be working fine, getting all kinds of great results, but without a strategy, the company is blind to this ROI.
If the company’s goal is sales, but the objectives are not aligned (i.e. not supporting sales in any way) then even if the strategy works, the results are bound to disappoint because deep down, the company owner knows she needs sales and chances are, she just sort of expected that the sales would happen, but never articulated that requirement.
Beyond objectives, we must analyze the target market. What’s important to them, where are their emotional touch points and how do we press those points?
It doesn’t matter if we’re selling doorknobs or health supplements: Understanding what our target market is passionate about and pissed about will unlock the door to getting into their psyche. This research becomes the foundation for our key messages.
The actual strategies are how we should communicate these key messages. Which would be the most effective medium, given how the demographic behaves and where they play? It could be Facebook or Instagram, but it might not be social at all. It might be better to reach them at rotary clubs, or on golf courses or in-person networking.
Bottom line: If you skip the strategy, you leave your marketing success up to chance, and end up throwing messy spaghetti against the wall. It’s foolish. Just be smart and invest in a strategy to guide your efforts before you begin.
This one is a bit subtler, but still a big issue. Anyone whose done business with me has heard me say that social changes every six months and turns itself inside out every two years.
Social media networks are constantly tweaking their algorithms to force marketers to invest more to get consistent results.
Thus, as marketers, we must be more and more aggressive on behalf of our clients. When I think of the results we got for our clients four years ago, and how much harder we must work to match those results today, it’s…well… Let’s just say that agility and energy are core competencies in a social media agency owner!
The key here is ensuring that your strategist understands what is possible with your budget and how to optimize your budget.
Don’t allow yourself to be oversold by people who are operating with yesterday’s rules and will do nothing but shrug their shoulders when the program doesn’t yield results.
For example, Live Video on Facebook right now is HUGE. Linking off-page to credible media outlet is not (although it was two years ago.)
It’s only natural that, as a reader, you are asking “okay, Kim, but if I don’t know social, how can I know if the person I’m hiring knows what they’re doing?”
Outside of checking references and results, this is a tough one.
One red flag I’d watch for is an over-reliance on organic content. If they don’t come to you with a significant social media ad budget, I’d tread cautiously. The days of organic content yielding extraordinary results all by itself are pretty much over. Heck, that was over about five years ago.
Your Budget Is Too Small
Speaking of budgets… reread the above paragraph. I’ve made it blue so it’s easy!
Social media takes a proper budget. This is why having a strategy behind you is so critical. (Are you really going to invest 36k a year without a plan, really?!)
You need a budget to hire a strategist, to create and schedule content, and then to promote that content and build out your community. What about measurement and accountability meetings?
You simply can’t do all of that on a budget of $500 per month. And don’t trust any company that says it can because, chances are, it will be out of business part way through your program.
Marketing costs money. If you don’t have a lot of money, then you still want to go through the strategic process so that you can identify tactics that are more aligned with your budget. There is no judgement in marketing, just options.
About That Crappy Website from 2012
Social media and social media advertising can drive a ton of traffic to your website. But what happens if your website sucks? Can you really blame social media when your prospects bounce off your site because it’s not user friendly? Or because your product is presented with tiny pixelated images with little to no content?
Look, I know we can get the job done with social media on our end, but if every lead we send you bounces off your page or abandons their cart, the issue is your site, and you’re wasting your money driving people to it.
My advice is to make sure that your website can do its job first. If your site is three or more years old, invest in a new site. Test it. Pay attention to traffic flow reports. Adjust.
Once you know your site can convert, then it’s a great time to invest in external marketing tactics like social, SEO, or a massive billboard over the freeway with your face and URL!
Social media may have its artistic expressions, but it’s a science nonetheless. Everything can be broken down, measured, analyzed, provided you’ve created the framework to do so ahead of time.
When you have a detailed strategy behind you, there are rarely surprises and it’s simply a matter of paying attention and course correcting.
This is how we get the results that we talk about in our case studies. A lawyer who opens more than 30% of his files from his digital program, or a skilled trades gear supplier whose sales literally doubled from one year to the next due to a new marketing program.
Why did they succeed? Because both clients put in the time, effort and money to make sure they had a game plan, and they followed it.
For more information on how Lyra Communications can get you the results you want on social media, drop us a line today!