Contrary to popular belief, social media isn't free.

It doesn't cost much to get started, but it takes hours of labor and focused effort before you begin seeing any results.

And that's if you're doing it right.

If you fall victim to one of these 3 threats, then you may not see any positive results at all.

Social media cartoon comic - Buying Twitter Followers Image courtesy of seanrnicholson

 

1. The HIPPO Syndrome

There's an old joke that says a camel is a horse designed by committee.

And in most large organizations, this is the main reason behind average, boring products and services.

Someone needs to make the tough decisions and be willing to draw a line in the sand. But here's the catch.

You need to avoid the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person's Opinion) syndrome at all costs. Especially when it comes to social media.

In many organizations, the highest paid person in your organization has no clue about digital marketing. And when that person is dictating strategies and tactics, you're going to run into trouble.

So what's the solution?

Management guru Edward Deming once said, "In God we trust. Everyone else must bring data". So if you want to prove your point of view, then you need to use data to paint a picture and tell your story.

Because if you can show how your ideas are improving the organization with cold-hard data, then no one can disagree with you.

It's impossible to show the true ROI from social media. But you can show how much traffic is coming from Facebook on a monthly basis, and how those users stay on your site longer than visitors from other channels like organic search.

You can also use tracking cookies or special coupon codes to track conversions coming through each social media channel. Toy company Step2 uses social media for business and reported a 300% increase in revenues from visitors who come through the Facebook Connect button.

No one can argue with results like that.

 

2. No Money & No Time

One of the most common objections people have about social media is that they have no time and no money to invest.

Maybe you've even felt this way yourself. I completely understand. It's easy to get overwhelmed when things are constantly changing, and it always seems like there's more to do.

But you just need to stop, take a breath, and look at it objectively.

The internet and social media has fundamentally changed the way people buy your products and services. It presents a huge opportunity for those willing to start early and stake their claim. And it enables you to compete with any company, anywhere, at any time. So you can't afford not to get involved.

And if you really think about it, you can't be short on both time and money.

If you're short on time, then you should use money to hire a blog writer to help you create exceptional content that will get you traffic, links and subscribers.

Or you can strip down your expectations to the essential. For example, don't worry about using Pinterest. Instead focus all of your time, energy and effort on the one social network where your audience is most active.

If you're short on money, then you should focus all your effort on tactics which will get you traffic that will turn into loyal customers. Specifically, you should:

  • Create content that attracts prospects
  • Partner with other brands to get in front of their communities
  • Learn how to use SEO to get consistent, high-quality traffic

Then once you start getting some traffic, you can learn about conversion rate optimization and increase the amount of people joining your mailing list, buying your products or contacting you about your services.

 

3. The Strengths & Weaknesses of Social Media

Social media can't save your brand.

In today's world, your product and service is your marketing.

Red Bull doesn't have 28 million Facebook "Likes" because of some clever marketing gimmicks. They're also the best, most well known product in their category.

But they do understand how to use social media very well.

Look at their content marketing. They don't focus on their company or product. They focus on who their audience is. They highlight the lifestyle of their audience with exciting images and extreme sports. And take a look at the comments and interaction on their Facebook wall. You'll see positive, engaged people consistently interacting with their brand.

They have a clear understanding of the definition of social media.

Great. Now what does all this mean?

It's impossible to pinpoint the ROI of social media because it doesn't convert directly. Instead, it helps by gaining people's awareness, building trust and getting them to stick around longer.

In business terms, that means social media helps:

  • Improve your overall online conversion rates by increasing trust
  • Give you a higher marketing ROI compared to traditional channels
  • And increase the lifetime value of a customer because people will buy more frequently when they stay engaged longer

If you expect direct conversions from social media, then you're going to be disappointed. Just like if you spread yourself too thin, don't invest enough time, or take bad advice from the highest paid people in your organization.

If you don't have a good initial experience, then you'll quit or under-invest in the future.

And you'll miss out on a tremendous opportunity for your organization in the long run.