How are your social media marketing efforts doing these days? Are you getting customers, followers?
Do your Facebook likes translate into a loyal tribe? How much do you spend on your Facebook and other social media marketing efforts?
Do We Need To Rethink Social Media Marketing?
I listened this morning to a Copyblogger podcast that discussed social media marketing exactly as I’ve been thinking about it recently.
The discussion centered around websites being membership sites. What a great idea. This is, after all, what Facebook is. You have to log in to play.
Can anyone do it? Or can it only be done by the big kahunas?
I think it’s worth looking at. Closely.
Facebook’s Membership Model
Facebook is a great example of a membership site. If you want the full experience of Facebook, you have to log in, as a member, to get it. You can access some of Facebook without logging in, like a person’s page, for example, but you’ll only get a portion of what’s available as a member.
Yes, it’s free to sign up for an account. It’s when you want to market on Facebook that it’s no longer free. At least not to most of us.
There are some marketing gurus out there who claim they can position their product or service organically and get great results. But certainly that’s not true for most of us.
In order to market effectively, via ads and sponsored stories, you gotta pay to play.
And I say effectively with tongue in cheek because the mere fact that you pay to run ads on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll make money. It’s still no guarantee and you can feel like chucking your laptop out the window and retiring to a deserted island trying to figure it all out.
I know. If I didn’t know better, I would think I was being punked.
But you know who does make money? Facebook.
And I’m even okay with that. I know you have to spend money to make money. It’s the hoops we are constantly asked to jump through that make me crazy.
I have spent thousands over time on Facebook ads. Yes, you read that right.
But I have not made thousands back. Every time I think I’ve got it figured out, I find out I don’t.
Where is the Candid Camera hidden? 😉
My Problem With The Social Media Marketing Model
Here’s what I find most frustrating with marketing via social media, Facebook, in particular.
It’s too easy to be lulled into a false sense of success when your sponsored page garners lots of likes on Facebook. Just because someone likes your Facebook page does not mean your business is growing.
A social media follow is merely that. Someone who followed your page. It’s the coldest link to a potential customer. The only colder link is no follow at all.
There’s no guarantee that that person will even remember that they liked your page a day later. Or even an hour later.
The Basic Social Media Marketing Scenario
Consider this scenario:
Say you have a Facebook page for your fitness business. You post articles, share uplifting photos, quotes. Give advice on fitness and healthy eating. Maybe some recipes. The typical fare on a fitness page.
Once upon a time, it was relatively easy to get your posts seen in the newsfeed. The number of people on Facebook was smaller, the competition for good Facebook real estate was less, and you probably got noticed.
Not so much, these days. With so many people on Facebook, Facebook had no choice but to declutter the newsfeed. Thus, they make determinations, based on user interest, of what each of us will likely see in our newsfeeds.
And the news is dismal for business owners. You may or may not be seen by those you’re trying to reach. No matter what you do.
Add to that Facebook’s algorithms and ever-changing rules and regulations and trying to stay one step ahead is all but impossible. For most of us.
Facebook is the master shape-changer. It boggles the mind.
Your Sponsored Page
So under this set of circumstances, let’s say you’ve sponsored your page in order to get it into the newsfeed.
Now, along comes a typical Facebook user, scrolling the newsfeed during lunch or while waiting to pick up the carpool.
Let’s say this person wants to lose weight and has been searching the web for weight loss products. They’ve been on Amazon looking at programs. They’ve checked out the Weight Watchers website.
Facebook has taken note of this fact and now feeds up to this user pages related to fitness. Like your fitness page.
Up it pops in the newsfeed, with a big, fat LIKE button, and what happens?
The user clicks on that button and likes your page. If you’re lucky, they open your page and look it over, then click like.
Either way, the kids come out to the car, or lunch hour ends, and off they go. Facebook, and your page, now closed.
Out of sight, and very likely out of mind.
Can We Beat The Social Media Marketing Odds?
Now, admittedly, this doesn’t always happen. Some users will become actual, engaged viewers to your page, And if you’re smart, you’re engaging back with them. Building trust and developing a relationship.
But does it always translate into a sale?
Most definitely not. At least not right away. You must show that you care about your audience, that your posts are valuable to them, and that you’re not simply looking to make a sale.
And the number of likes on your Facebook page represents only a small fraction of customer sales. The biggest mistake some marketers make is believing that they have tons of customers because they have tons of likes. It’s simply not true.
Is There A Better Way?
But my point is this: If you spend hundreds of dollars, or more, a month on Facebook ads, and you get a ton of people clicking that like button, but not one sale or customer, or very few, you have to ask yourself, was that money well spent?
Is there a better way?
This is my frustration with social media marketing these days. And brings me back full circle to that podcast I listened to this morning.
Build Your Own Online Home – With A Membership Site
Why not make your website a membership site? It can be free, certainly. In fact, probably should be, at least on one level. It’s still true that email subscribers to your site are worth much more than a social media follow.
When someone gives you their email address, they trust you. Or at least they’re willing to give you a chance to earn more trust.
And a membership site, where your audience is allowed behind the private door, gives a much richer, more powerful experience with your target market. It helps build greater trust.
It turns followers into customers. Then repeat customers.
The hard part, of course, is getting people to your site and being noticed in the first place. And that’s where social media can play a part, if done well.
And focusing more on SEO and keywords, especially long-tail keywords, in your posts and on your site may be an even better way.
So, what does this all mean? Should we give up on social media marketing?
Maybe not. But certainly we should be wary of spending hundreds, even thousands, on ads on Facebook and instead find better ways to connect with our customers.
And I, for one, would like to use social media mostly for what it’s intended for. To be social. To connect with your friends and family.
I’ve grown weary of trying to keep up with social media sites as a marketing tool. It’s a full-time endeavor in itself.
I want to provide value to my own customers. I want to have a thriving business.
I don’t mind having a presence on social media for my business, but I’m getting just a tad tired of paying Facebook and making them rich, while struggling to keep up with their constant changes. It’s exhausting..
I’ll be exploring this in more detail moving forward and I’ll share with you what I find along the way. There is a place for social media marketing. The trick is finding the right balance to make it work, without losing our minds in the process.
Something has to change. We want to work smarter, not harder.
And social media marketing is hard for most of us. And there are lot of snake oil salesmen out there taking advantage of that fact. We have to tread lightly and be careful lest we spend huge sums of money on useless training.
What Has Worked For You?
What has worked for you in your marketing efforts? Have you found a successful social media marketing tool? Share in the comments below.
Together, we can all help each other. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.