Is this an absurd statement to make given we work in online marketing?
Everyone needs social media now don’t they? It has certainly captured the imagination of aspiring business people the world over. More people than ever before are using social media, or are following it, or are selling it to someone who believes they need it.
But does it actually work?
It is certainly good for keeping in touch and finding out what is happening in the world, that goes without saying. But can it actually help your business to sell more products or services? Will it actually improve your brand awareness? Will it get someone out there to sit up and take notice of your company and your brand. Will it? Are you absolutely sure it will do that and your time invested in getting your message out in social media land has been worthwhile. Is it perhaps that it is free that everyone is using it. Maybe if it cost every time we tweeted or posted a comment we would think differently about it and company bosses would want to see a return on their investment as is the case with marketing and advertising.
I’m sure there are people out there who swear by their social media activity and have had several enquiries which may or may not have resulted in a sale, but I wonder if that’s true for the majority of people using social media for the development of their business.
What it has created is a whole new business sector of people selling their services in social media. I have lost count of the number of people now promoting themselves as consultants and running various accounts for different businesses.
Does it work for brands?
Coca-Cola, one of the most iconic consumer brands in the world, is not surprisingly one of the most popular and active brands on social media. In fact, with more than 62m ‘likes’ on Facebook, it’s the most popular brand on the world’s largest social network. But when they looked at the online chat taking place on social networks, Coca-Cola themselves came to a rather startling conclusion: there’s essentially no impact on sales. So if it doesn’t improve the biggest brands out there what chance the smaller ones.
Of course every company has different needs and market share. So what works for one business will not for another, and it is really up to each business owner to decide on the merits of their marketing strategies and how social media will fit into it.
There must be a place for social media within a company’s marketing and advertising strategies but to rely on it at the expense of other activities would be foolish. The fact it is free, other than the time staff take to do it, most probably contributes to its appeal. If someone is being paid anyway then they may as well fit some social media networking into their day. But would it be more beneficial to run an ad or send out a leaflet.
It’s not too long ago that direct mail was the trend and everyone was doing it. That was until it became apparent that the best return you could expect was 0.5%. Since then there has been much less direct mail sent out. Perhaps social media will also have its day and eventually people will decide the returns are simply not sufficient to keep hammering away at it. In the meantime happy tweeting and facebooking seem to be the popular past-time at the moment.
We’d be really interested in your experience of Social Media – does it work for your business? Please do comment below.