How to be really, really disappointed by social media

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IN business, it’s important to stay ahead of the game. No matter how well you thought you knew your sport when you trained, back in the 80s or 90s, you can guarantee things will have changed considerably since.

Business is a fast moving field and so is marketing. We’re a long way from the glory days when websites climbed up the Google ranks thanks to lots of dodgy back links, poorly written keyword-heavy articles distributed under pseudonyms and flashy, ‘buy me now’ style squeeze pages.

We’re also a long way from the days where it was easy to pick up a single element of marketing and directly relate it to cold, hard sales… particularly when that element is social media.

There’s always been lots of debate about social media ROI, and that’s likely to continue. Why? Because nobody really agrees on exactly what to measure.

Let us be blunt here… if you’re measuring the success of your social media efforts purely by the bottom line at the end of the month, chances are you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Social media isn’t about direct sales. It never has been. And that’s why so many people just don’t get it, why their social media updates are far more likely to be shunned than shared and why they eventually give up.

The latest research (do a few quick Google searches on social search and social media ROI if you don’t believe us) shows the importance of social media is growing. You really can’t afford to dig your heels in and insist it doesn’t work.

Instead of thinking in direct sales, you need to see the bigger picture… here are just a few points to consider when it comes to social media:

1) Google uses social media to decide where to rank your page. Social Search is only likely to build in terms of search ranking, so you need to be talking to people and engaging with them if you want to climb towards the top of the page. The scales are beginning to tip between old fashioned SEO methods and Social Search ranking.

2) PR opportunities can and do come up through effective use of social media channels. Have you had any bites from journalists through your social media channels? Have you tried engaging with them? Have you thought about how you might generate good news stories through savvy social media use?

3) Is your audience growing? Are you getting your message out to new people?

4) Are you using social media to determine needs, wants and desires? If you watch what people are talking about, which posts they’re engaging with, you can effectively use that as a benchmark… not only in terms of what to talk about, but to come up with new product lines to match the needs, or even tweak your current offerings.

Of course, there’s more you need to be aware of – including whether you’re using the social media channels that are right for your business offering and whether you’re engaging with your audience in the right way.

One thing’s for sure though… when it comes to social media, it’s about far more than direct sales. If you can’t see out of that particular box, it’s maybe time for you to swallow your pride and be prepared to relearn and get rid of some of those limiting beliefs.

Or you can just decide social media doesn’t work and give up. Good luck with that. And when your younger, more savvy competitor starts snapping at your heels and growing a decent social media following, a new audience, generating good PR, web ranking and new leads, you might want to ask yourself where you went wrong!

> What do you think? Have you generated useful leads other than straight sales through social media? Have you made good contacts? How has social media been good for your business?

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