Are you a business owner who is trying to make social media marketing work, but it’s just not happening?
Often I hear complaints along these lines: “I’ve never gotten any sales from social media.”
If your social media marketing isn’t working, don’t give up just yet. I’ve often run across people who are sabotaging their own social media marketing efforts–including myself! It is easier to declare that social media marketing doesn’t work than it is to figure out the missing pieces to successful social selling.
While it’s important to build relationships online and be social for social selling to work, there are common mistakes that happen before business owners even have a chance to do much engaging. I’ve made these mistakes, so let’s see if you can benefit from me sharing them with you.
I’ve said it before, but you need a clearly defined, measurable goal when determining your social media efforts. The goal decides your plan. Without a goal, your time on social media can be wasteful, both in time and money.
MY FAIL >> When I first began using social media for business, my goal was to be on social media. Hmmm…that’s not a goal! Sadly, it showed. There was no benefit for my business and even less benefit for my audience. Starting with a goal gives your social media marketing a purpose, which is better for you and your fans.
Ask yourself: what am I trying to accomplish?
When deciding your goal, be specific. Include numbers, dates, milestones. You can always adjust later. Don’t make this more complex than it needs to be.
Try to keep your goals limited to a short list of one to three items. You don’t want to set yourself up to fail! You can re-do your goals every month or every quarter rather than yearly so that you can assess what’s working, what’s not, and adjust promptly.
Example goals: 1) 10 consulting leads that turn into 2 new $5000 clients within 30 days 2) 100 products/items sold by the end of the month for a profit of $5000 3) 350 email addresses added to my list in 90 days
Now that you’ve identified your goals, what’s your plan to achieve them?
For every goal, define a strategy. Start simple and work backward. In other words, think about your end goal and the steps it will take to accomplish it. Then write those steps down on paper or on your computer.
Example strategies (to match the above goals): 1) LinkedIn: Connect with 100 new contacts via InMail and publish 4 articles in a month that link to an offer. 2) Run three Facebook ad campaigns to promote a coupon. 3) Create a free eBook as an opt-in offer and promote it for three months using Twitter ads.
Your goals and strategies can and should change as you receive feedback and metrics from your efforts. For ideas, check out how Buffer is working on their social media strategy.
Personally, this is my biggest pain point! Social media marketing requires consistent, quality, and—most importantly—popular content.
Without content, your social media platforms grow stale, outdated, boring, and ineffective. But you don’t want to post just anything. You need to provide the right content, at the right times, to attract the right audience.
Yet, creating enough content to stay consistent and engaging can be a challenge. You’ll need to plan ahead. Sometimes I dedicate entire days to content creation. Using an editorial calendar can help. I use a free Google calendar for blogging. (Did you know that you can have multiple Google calendars? You can dedicate one calendar to your blogs and layer it with your other calendars.)
Keep in mind your goals when selecting what type and topic of content you’re using. Develop content that aligns with your goals, strategy, services/products, and highlights your expertise. You’ll attract your ideal audience this way and get more leverage as a result. Make it count!
MY FAIL >> For an example of what not to do: I wrote a blog post about Periscope…but why? I was barely active on the platform and my services had nothing to do with it. Why exactly why was I writing about it? Instead, I needed to publish content that communicated our brand, showed off my knowledge, and led people to our offers.
Here are some types of meaty content that you can use to market your brand, engage your audience, and eventually promote your offers:
Is it so wrong to woo your audience on social media and show them a promotional offer now and then? NO! The point of social media marketing is to build a community, provide lots of free value, and promote your paid offers occasionally. It’s a combination of being social and subtle promotion. (Hence the term “social selling.”)
Using social media to spread your brand message, build online relationships, provide edutainment, and connect with fans is what you should be doing. However, the end result is that you’re in business and need to make a living. Eventually, all of your social media efforts MUST lead to revenue generation. Otherwise, you’ll go broke!
MY FAIL >> It’s simple really: I don’t promote our offers often enough on social media to make a difference. In fact, one of our biggest hurdles in 2015 was getting people to understand what we do. Our lack of clearly communicating our value proposition and related offers was abundant in everything we did. However, this taught us how to improve, which you’ll see over the next several months.
If you are in a business where you can’t sell directly on social media, then you can still promote your value. Also, you may want to use your social media real estate to move fans to your email marketing campaigns to sell from there instead. But it’s totally acceptable and worthwhile to let your fans know on social media what you do for a living and what you can offer them. And it’s up to you to do that.
If you don’t promote your offers, don’t blame social media when it isn’t “working” to get you leads or sales.
If you aren’t tracking what you’re doing on social media, you’ll never know your results. If you don’t know your results, how can you decide if social media marketing is working or how to improve your efforts?
The analysis of your results allows you to get to know your audience’s needs better while helping you navigate through your strategy. If you don’t review the results, then you won’t know what’s working and what’s not.
MY FAIL >> In the past, I spent so much time treading water to keep afloat on social media that analysis was sporadic and not a priority. Can you relate? Over the past six months, however, we’ve started to analyze more. Every time we make a decision based on our analytics, we see improvement. It’s definitely worth the time, so we’ve sacrificed in other areas to make analysis possible.
Of course, each business will have different metrics that are important based on specific goals. But here are some important questions you should be able to answer:
Ian Cleary’s guide to social media tracking is one resource to help get you started.
One certain way to overwhelm yourself is to try to be awesome on ALL social media platforms. Don’t attempt it. Unless you have a big team of people to support you and a lot of money. And even then I’d recommend only those platforms where you find your ideal audience.
As a small business owner, you have a lot to do. Focusing on one platform can make a big difference by keeping your investment of time and money to a sustainable level. Invest in more than one platform and you can find yourself overwhelmed, unable to dedicate enough resources to your social media marketing efforts.
MY FAIL >> At the suggestion of many knowledgeable people, I reserved my personal and business names on the main, most popular social media platforms. This advice makes sense to protect your brand. However, I then felt compelled to be active on all platforms. When I couldn’t keep up, I felt as if I failed when really I was not basing my actions on goals.
Now I concentrate on the platform that makes the most sense for me based on my business strategy and audience (Twitter). I’ll admit, it’s tough for me to limit myself to one platform, so I post occasionally on other platforms. But my focus and energy remain dedicated to one platform so that I can serve my audience best.
Looking back, I think the two most important questions to ask yourself to help decide which platform to use are:
Once I figured out these answers, my business started to see positive results from social media marketing.
Do you expect to place an ad in your local newspaper or magazine for free? Of course, you don’t. Then why oh why do you think advertising on social media should be free? It shouldn’t. It’s not Facebook’s responsibility to give you free marketing. They are a business just like you—and don’t you want to get paid? Of course, you do.
When you’re embarking on any marketing effort, there is usually an associated cost, even if it’s just paying for graphics or stock images. To be successful in social media marketing, you will need to spend some money. Get comfortable with the idea.
Plan your budget so that you don’t overspend and devote some money to your marketing budget.
MY FAIL >> There is no question that I used to spend too much on the wrong things. Here’s a little-known secret: I’m addicted to online courses! Social media and business are ever-changing, so it’s important to stay knowledgeable. But I’ve since learned to prioritize where our business needs to invest first.
Once you’ve figured out a budget based on your goals and strategy, make sure to be realistic about your commitment and investment. Social media takes time. Don’t expect immediate results. Plan on investing for at least three to six months.
There comes a point when you realize that your money and effort could be better spent hiring an experienced social media marketer to help you. There’s no shame in that!
In fact, if you can admit this early on, you might save yourself money, heartache, mistakes, and time.
I’m unsure why business owners think they should do it all. Money is frequently the reason that business owners don’t want to outsource. The other reason is control. I understand both.
But what if you could hire a social media marketer for $997 a month and that person added three new members to your $5000 coaching program in three months via social media? Let’s do the math. You made $15,000 with an investment of less than $3000, which means a profit of $12,000.
PLUS, you didn’t just profit, but you got to focus on your business while someone else did the heavy lifting on social media for you.
Hiring a professional may not be in everyone’s future, but it sure seems to make a lot of sense for those of you who offer high dollar programs.