Social Media Marketing: Expectations vs. Reality
Updated: Sep 5, 2019
Much has been said about why social media sites remain as powerful marketing tools even today. These platforms are only getting more subscribers each day, so it’s no longer surprising that 2 million businesses were said to use Facebook for advertising in 2018.
Because of its immense potential, we may think that social media can be the cure-all for all our marketing woes, and new marketers sometimes set unrealistic expectations for their campaigns. Here are a few of those misguided assumptions, as well as the real challenges you may face once you start marketing on social media.
Likes and shares will automatically increase your sales.
“My post engagements will translate to sales. Likes and shares do not lie—they represent people’s intent to buy. Sharing also gets my content in front of more people, so that should add to my sales, too.”
These expectations are incorrect for many reasons.
First, likes and shares are good indicators of your content’s ability to engage your audience, not necessarily to convert them into paying customers. Your social media followers will still go through different stages of the buying journey before they actually contribute to your sales, and the biggest obstacle, of course, is conversion. Your content might be likeable or shareable, but how does it fare in terms of convincing your audience to proceed to the next step?
It is also important to consider where your conversions are supposed to happen. If the purchase or sign-up happens on social media, then make sure your content motivates your audience enough to access your content and make the intended action. In many cases, social media posts are also used to drive traffic to your website, where the sale takes place.
Regardless, the better engagement metric to examine, rather than your likes and shares, is your click rate. When people click on your content, they’re usually just one step away from conversion. If they do not go all the way, take your cue and make the necessary adjustments to your content.
At the very least, your likes and shares can help improve your brand awareness, so don’t be discouraged if they are not positively correlating with your bottom line.
Exceptional content will always go viral.
“My content will get tons of engagement as long as it is executed well. The content just needs to be catchy and relatable, and my followers will do the marketing for me by liking and sharing my post. Perhaps following the formula of a viral post can mimic the same success for my campaign.”
Viral posts are merely flukes in marketing, i.e. they are the exceptions rather than the rule.
The truth is that you can go the extra mile in crafting your posts and still not earn the mileage you need in terms of engagement. You might even be tempted to post something controversial—a content writing pitfall that you should avoid as much as possible.
Again, this doesn’t mean that you should stop trying. In crafting your posts, try to be as original as possible and be mindful of ways you can stand out on social media. When covering often-discussed topics, make sure you always bring something new to the table. The internet always welcomes new insights, and you might even be surprised that your fresh take on things could be all you need to go viral.
The key here is to be cautiously optimistic, and also know that even if your posts are getting minimal to normal amounts of engagement, they can still benefit your marketing.
Your social media following will grow instantly once you start marketing.
“My page might have only a handful of followers now, but that number will grow exponentially once I start posting regularly. It is easy to gain followers by being active on social media.”
As you can tell by now, social media marketers tend to obsess over numbers, and follower count is another example.
Followers are important for obvious reasons. What’s not obvious to a lot of marketers is that it takes time to build a decent amount of quality followers. It doesn’t help that many social media service providers these days offer a guaranteed amount of followers almost instantly or within relatively short periods of time.
In reality, though, many of these providers only artificially boost your social media following. The followers are there, but they are not necessarily the people you need to grow your business. In other words, it is virtually pointless to have a large number of followers if they are not your target market.
If you wish to attract quality followers—those that are genuinely interested in your business—you should be willing to put in the time and gain them organically through useful, well-thought-out content.
Social media marketing is free and easy.
Social media marketing is popular because everyone knows how to use those websites. Doing the posts myself doesn’t hurt me financially. In fact, even a company owner without any marketing background can promote a business on social media, and it won’t even cost a dime.
The time you spend crafting your messages, making your photos look good, and uploading your content on your social pages is a form of investment. It is time that you could have spent on other tasks to build or run your business. So if you’re thinking that social media marketing is free, it is not. It is costing you in other ways, and we’re not even talking about paid social ads here.
Social media marketing also takes skills to be effective. We’ve established that your posts need to propel action, but other than that, they must also help improve brand perception and display your business in the best light. These are all things best left in the hands of a content marketing agency. Whether or not you hire someone to do your social marketing, it will still represent investment on your part, so you might as well rely on professionals to do the job for you.
Social media advertising will lead to more conversions.
“If I want to gain more customers fast, I should spend on social media advertising. That will show my content to more people, and that will surely increase my sales.”
It is true that advertising gives you access to more people, but it hardly does anything beyond that. Conversion will still depend primarily on the quality of your messages.
Let’s also take a moment to consider the complexity of running social media ads. For ads to be effective, you need to target the right demographic and continuously make adjustments for better targeting. Ultimately, this may mean a significant investment all for short-term gains.
If you wish to ensure the longevity of your social posts, your partner content marketing agency should focus on creating messages that will serve your business long after your ads have expired.
There is a one-size-fits-all approach to social media marketing.
“I can post the same thing across my social media pages. I do not even have to change a thing as long as my followers can access my content.”
This is probably one of the most basic things that you need to learn when you’re marketing on social media: there is no universal approach to all such sites.
Many would argue that you need to create content that’s tailored to each platform, especially when you consider their respective user demographics. In actual practice, however, this is easier said than done when your resources are limited.
So at the very least, make sure that you make small adjustments to account for the “quirks” of each site, e.g. Twitter’s shorter character count or LinkedIn’s more professional tone. Along with other ways to refine your social media strategy, these simple adjustments can better ensure that your content will actually work to your business advantage.
No doubt, social media can be a very potent tool for modern marketers, especially when you know what to expect once you start running your campaigns. There are a few key takeaways in this regard:
Numbers aren’t everything, so make sure you look at your campaign’s performance as a whole.
Social media marketing requires time, so watch out for promises of instant success.
Content is king even for social media marketing, so make your posts count!
What other expectations do you have of your social media campaigns? Reach out and see how we can help you achieve those goals.