If You Post A Status No One Reads, Does It Make A Sound?
Social media is becoming a mainstay in businesses, unfortunately to business' own peril. The increasing amount of social media agencies, advertisers, and gimmicks that offer to give businesses 500 new followers or increase their Likes on Facebook are adding to a toxic environment where companies who are already poorly informed and unaware about social media are digging their own graves. Deep concern with maintaining social media profiles that churn out a steady stream of updates that don't invoke any engagement or interaction has become the fall back approach to social media for many businesses.
What's the point of social media for a business? Obviously, like many forms of advertising, the return on investment (ROI) isn't always easy to calculate in numbers. While social media may be a new platform, the reality is no different than in the past when businesses were only purchasing print adverts and billboards with no ability to assess whether individuals were buying their product because of that particular advert or something else. Unless we ask a customer at the end of every buying cycle, for every purchase, what motivated them - assuming they even know the specific reason- why they bought that item, we're not going to be able to get a ROI from social media in quantifiable terms.
Businesses have to accept that pure and simple fact before they can do anything. When you try to quantify ROI for social media, you end up getting trapped in numbers. You're more concerned with numbers of tweets going out per day, numbers of likes, and numbers of followers than actually engaging with and interacting with people on social media - which is supposed to be the entire point. And that's where businesses end up paying agencies and employees to do the busy work in order to try to qualify why they're on social media. They're so concerned with making targets or doing what's already been done, they're wasting time and money in the process.
How do they break out of this? There are several steps businesses can take, but they have to ask themselves one hard and serious question. You're talking, but is anyone listening to you?
It's great that you want to tell everyone about your product. Most businesses do. Most people in general want to talk. That's why social media exists in the first place. But you need to look at each social media profile, understand the purpose of it, understand the reason your customers use it, and ask yourself, "If I post a status update no one reads, does it matter?". There is absolutely no point in engaging in a social media platform if there is no one on that platform who is there to engage you.
For example, if you're a B2B organisation that makes license plate paint that you sell only to license plate makers, you should ask yourself if anyone really wants or cares to listen to your Facebook updates. Social media is about being social. Most people who engage honestly with Facebook are talking to their friends, families and co-workers. They may engage with companies for the sake of coupons or fanning over a product, but if they work at a license plate company, chances are, they're not going to want to discuss paint while they're on Facebook. You do not have to be on social media as a standard. Especially if that outlet only provides a draining on your resources by demanding fresh content that no one is interested in reading.
Whereas, if you're a restaurant with burrito chains all across a major city targeting young adults, it makes sense to engage in all forms of social media for the purposes of customer service, spreading discount codes, and engaging customers with your product. The primary focus of every single social media platform should be engagement. Instead of circling your approach around what information you just want to throw out there, you need to think about who you want to speak to, how you want to speak to them, and why. And you need to also accept that some businesses have a lot to engage their consumers with - and yours just may not be one of them.
The first question any business needs to tackle before approaching social media is finding out and being honest with themselves about whether their audience wants to listen to them. As retro and uncool as it may seem, perhaps email marketing is a stronger way of interacting with your audience. Perhaps distributing flyers will bring you more success. It's difficult to say. But avoid the trap of just having social media platforms for the sake of having them, because you will find yourself paying an employee or an agency for the time of updating them. And if there is no one there who listens to you talk, it doesn't matter what you have to say.
I've been writing for over five years on a variety of subjects including social media, innovation, technology, finance, etc. I've written for both B2C and B2B audiences in different genres. I currently work for Quad Digital as a content marketing executive.
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