No ROI from your Social Networks? Change the Channel

If your marketing department hasn't gotten the results you expected from your social networking by now, it probably never will. It's not their fault. It's just the wrong channel.

I'm a digital marketing consultant who spend his days as a social media strategist, write a syndicated column on social media, have authored social media best practices eBooks, and by some standards, am a pioneer in social media. And I consider myself a social media student as you can't be much of an expert on what's been around for such a short time. So it always puzzles me when a client reaches a frustration level with the results, or rather the lack thereof, that they are achieving from their efforts. They'll say: "I've got my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages up. And I'm paying some kid to write content and post and tweet and blog and...I'm not seeing anything." 

Sound familiar? Measuring ROI on social media certainly is possible though since there is no accepted standard (like the 2% return on direct mail for instance) I'm not sure what good it is. More important is ROE and ROTS (return on effort and return on time spent). Is the effort you are putting in increasing website traffic, SEO, brand awareness and inbound leads? Is it improving customer service and reducing support costs?

All social networks are just that: networks like HBO, CNN, or The Golf Channel. All with distinct target markets. The social networks are taking advantage of the fact that you don't recognize that. You may have thousands of Twitter followers but will never make a sale from it. Or conversely you may just have a couple hundred Facebook followers who could become loyal customers and generate hundreds more. Like any product or service, your efforts and subsequently advertising dollars may do gangbusters on a site of which you've never heard. Bad news is those sites are difficult to find with the millions out there; good news is when you do, you'll know it.

Many of these social networks allow you to zone in on your target market with pinpoint accuracy to which I say: "Big deal." If I'm buying space for a burger joint I don't care how many meat eaters I can reach on the Vegetarian Channel. Are the Male 18-34 demographic you're trying to reach buy on Facebook or just use it to chat and buy on Amazon and get influenced on Reddit? You see where I'm going with this.

You may simply be on the wrong network. Every business should have a Facebook page; not every business will get much business out of it. Try adverting there. It may be a success or not.
But more importantly is to understand that just because there are 750 million people it doesn't mean it's going to be a financial boon for you. Face it, Facebook may be causing you to face reality in the face of defeat and causing you to lose face. (Damn, that was a fun sentence to write.) Same goes for Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and the next great social network.

In conclusion, disregard what the "experts" may be telling you. You may be right. Facebook may be a bust for you even if they let you target exactly who you want to target. Instead maybe find a new, cutting edge networks that are on their way up. Change the channel.


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