When it comes to social media marketing, all the experts agree: it’s important to grow your social following or footprint. Many businesses follow this mantra and focus on growing their "fan" base across multiple networks, but make a singularly devastating mistake: That’s all they do.
You have a gazillion followers! So what? Are they following your products anywhere in particular?
We hate to break it to you, but simply having a gazillion followers is not the epitome of success. When online businesses started booming, everyone said you needed a website, but in its shadow came the pitfall: not being able to monetize your new amazing website. When search engine optimization (SEO) gained traction, everyone said you needed to rank in search results. Of course, in SEO’s shadow waited another pitfall: not being able to capture all the potential leads your new organic traffic brought to your site. Now, social media has been "the next big thing" for some time - and another pitfall lurks in the shadow of the “best practice” of building your networks with social media marketing.
The problem isn’t so much that it isn’t true, but that it’s simply not the entire picture. We encourage you to do a few key things in your quest to grow your online following:
During the advent of social media marketing one of the big questions was “why isn’t it working?” The answer to that question was that companies advertised to the social networking crowd instead of engaging with them. Today, to grow your social footprint, you need to engage, engage, engage.
In and of itself, promoting community engagement does indeed hit a few birds with one stone:
- Foster healthy interaction within your social communities
- Create more ways for people outside your communities to find you (through user interaction and discovery algorithms native to each social platform)
- Identify influencers who can help shape your social brand
Now that all sounds well and good, but let’s crunch some numbers – that’s what it all comes down to, isn’t it? If, say, for six months of social media marketing and promoting engagement, you grew your Facebook “Likes” from zero to 6,000 and identified 60 influencers that help spread the word about your brand, what’s your return on investment?
ROI with Social Media Marketing
The question of ROI is a bit tricky in social media – you can have a million (dare we say a gazillion again!?) fans but it will only be worth the effort if you know that the exact cost of the resources spent to build that million-strong audience is returned with generous interest. If you focus on only growing your social footprint, engaging your following, and identifying influencers, you’re missing the part that makes all of the above significant to your boss and the company's success… How do you monetize your social following?
It indeed is a question of ROI. The biggest social media marketing mistake that commonly sucker punches hard-working marketing directors and communications professionals, while draining their company's marketing budget, is that they don’t know how to connect the growth of their social media following with their bottom line. In other words, they never had a strategy to align and integrate social media with the rest of their revenue-generating infrastructure.
Don't be Blind to the Shimmering Thumbs Up
Let’s face it: Any business owner who sees their company’s "thumbs up" grow immensely gets excited by the growth. This “growth,” however, is all shimmer and doesn't necessary develop a winner.
Don’t be blinded by how “easy” - although it's not as easy as it used to be! - or relatively “affordable” it is to grow your social following. Social media marketing, just like the other channels of your online strategy, needs its own plan throughout an entire strategic process– from creating optimized profiles, to growing the footprint and engaging with your fans, to monetizing the following.
Social media is commonly used in conjunction with other channels of digital marketing for cross-channelInbound Marketing lead generation and nurturing. For instance, Nextiny Marketing primarily uses social media posts on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to help build traffic and ranking to clients' websites.
We also find that many networks, such as Facebook, make spending just a few dollars to "boost" your posts almost addictive. Yes, you will see more engagement on posts that you boost, of course Facebook is simply looking out for their bottom line. We'd encourage you not to get swept away by the dream of gaining a gazillion followers. Be sure to keep an eye on your bottom line as well!