The world of digital marketing moves at a pace that would make Phil Collins in his Concorde look more like Alfalfa in “The Blur 2.”
The landscape is constantly changing – new techniques, bigger platforms and an ever-growing audience mean that the potential to reach customers is astronomical.
Of the various channels small businesses can use to reach customers, social media is emerging as one the most appealing options. Everyone you know is on social media. Yes, even your imaginary friend Frisco you played with as a 4-year-old is on it.
According to a report by We Are Social, approximately 2.078 billion of the 7.21 billion people on earth have an active social media account – that’s 29% of the Earth’s population and almost 70% of all Internet users.Did You Know? Approximately 2.078 billion of the 7.21 billion people on earth have an active social media account.
Aside from the staggering number of people actively using social media, the next glaring statistic is how much time we spend on it. A recent study shows that about 28% of all time spent on the Internet is spent on various social networks – that means out of the 6.15 hours we spend online each day, 1.72 hours is dedicated to social media.
To put that into perspective, that’s weeks of time spent on social media every day.
So what do all of these numbers mean?
They mean that businesses have a tremendous opportunity to harness the power of social media and get their name in front of an unbelievably high number of potential customers.
The bottom line is that social media is a great opportunity for small business owners to grow their business. Unfortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to rip off a hard-working small business owner who doesn’t have the time to understand the vast and complex world of the Internet.
The sad truth is that there are businesses out there that aim to solicit money out of small business owners by promising results through social media campaigns. This creates a wealth of problems for both small business owners and legitimate digital marketing agencies, the most obvious being a loss of trust.
When considering a social media plan, several red flags will indicate a too-good-to-be-true opportunity.
Mark Zuckerberg himself isn’t in a position to absolutely guarantee results through social media marketing, and he might know a thing or two about it. You should always use caution when a company promises or guarantees leads through their social media marketing services.
Does social media marketing work? When done properly, yes.
There is more to social media marketing than just “Likes.”
The ultimate goal is to grow your business and build an engaged customer base. Some companies will promise an astronomical number of “likes” and they might even be able to generate quite a few, but the question isn’t how many people had the half of a calorie it takes to mindlessly click “Like,” but how many people are actually engaged in what they are liking.
I believe it was Aristotle that said,
“One viral post does not a business make.”
Ok maybe that’s not exactly correct, but you get the point.
The point being that you want your audience to be interested in your business, not just the funny cat photo your social media company posted. If posts aren’t contributing to your bottom line in some way, then you simply are not getting the most out of what social media has to offer.
Some companies will charge you money to post on their site promising (there’s that nasty word again) that thousands of people will view it. Now, even if they were able to make a promise like that – which they can’t – that is not a guarantee that it will grow your business in any way. Views are great at increasing visibility and brand awareness; you need to engage potential customers, not just wave an enticing flyer in front of their faces.
If a company approaches you and promises an unusually high or specific number of “Likes,” “Shares.” etc., they are probably targeting an audience that won’t actually help your business, or they are straight up lying.
One of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to generating buzz is the giveaway. You can promote giveaways until the cows come home and, let’s be honest, the prospect of receiving something for free is pretty exciting.
Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily attract the right audience for your business. Giveaways tend to attract an audience that only wants free stuff, otherwise known as absolutely everyone. Once you move past the exciting contest, they will drift back into the sea of their own actual interests, far away from whatever it is you are actually trying to sell. This is very counterproductive; even though it does attract a large number of people, those people don’t care about what your business actually does. If those people don’t stick around, then what’s the point?
Companies that try to pressure you into giveaways or other freebies are focusing on quantity over quality. They don’t care that it makes little sense for a roofing company to give away a smartphone because it will most likely generate buzz that they can pass off as genuine interest.
It is possible to successfully host a giveaway that benefits your business, but only when you are interacting with an already interested and engaged audience.
One of the biggest red flags to look for when dealing with social media marketing companies, or any marketing company, is when they explain their entire marketing strategy without learning a single detail about your business.
If marketing is a mansion, then social media is the dining hall. It is where people gather, share stories, reminisce, make new connections, and look at food. You will find a lot in this dining hall, but the one you will not find is one strategy that works for every single business. It does not exist.
What you will find is a host of various platforms, posts and social media ads that can be used in endless combinations to make up your unique strategy. A true social media marketing strategy will be tailored to your industry, business and general personality.
If a company believes they can help your business through social media without learning the first thing about your business, then you can believe that they are only seeing dollar signs.
All the Nickels and Dimes
Another common deception to keep an eye out for is a company that wants to charge you for everything short of blinking in their direction.
These companies will charge you for each post, share, and ad they make for you, then charge you to post it, and if you have a question or idea they’re going to charge you for that, too. They’ll assign some type of personal account representative you can call with any concerns, but only from 2-4 pm for 30 minutes per month (and before you ask, just know that the concept of “Rollover Minutes” is conveniently lost on these people).
You should never have to pay for each and every post; posts are just one part of the overall strategy. Ads and posts should be tailored to you, your business and your audience, not just thrown on social media for the sake of being there.
These nickel-and-diming companies will also probably promise that your posts will be seen by a lot of folks, which is how they “justify” charging you for each one. But views do not equal sales; if the audience isn’t engaged and interested then the posts aren’t doing you any good at all.
Take Your Time
When it’s all said and done, you want to work with a company that feels right. Take your time to get to know them and make sure they are getting to know you. The last thing you want to do is sign a contract with a company only to find out later that they were only interested in your money the whole time. The relationship between business owners and digital marketing agencies is meant to be cohesive and symbiotic with each side benefitting from the other’s success.