So, I’ve boasted of the wonders of social media marketing, because, well, it’s built my business. The majority of my clients, I’ve met via social media, or a via friend of theirs who saw me on social media and, voila, now we’ve had a consultation and we work together. That’s really cute, actually. However, I’ve been feeling some kinda way about social media marketing, or rather, the results that are expected from social media communications alone. I mean, social media marketing is cool, but as a standalone strategy, and if the goal is to have a huge ROI as a result of your investment in time and manpower is, um…I’m kinda feeling a little unsure about that one.

The thing is, social media marketing isn’t a thing that you do today and then become rich tomorrow. It’s also not so straightforward to track and measurement could be costly too. For a company who doesn’t understand social media marketing or measurement, it’s kinda hard for them to GET it, so a lot of time is being spent basically fighting a case for people to understand the value of investing in something that doesn’t have an immediate, clear, traceable result.

Here’s what I mean. I’m a social media marketing maven and have done account management for people and training to help people learn best practices for leveraging social media. What I hear when doing trainings or consultations is that my rates are too high and that they can get their kid to do it. I think that’s awesome! But what I’m really hearing is, “I don’t see the value in social media marketing and I don’t see how I can make money right away that would justify me paying your rates.”

That’s SO reasonable and I totally get it. Heck, if I weren’t me, I wouldn’t pay for a social media marketing manager either. But here’s the thing: Social media marketing objectives differ for each organization and you have to measure the result based on THOSE objectives and those may not be money. In fact, unless we’re tracking mentions, follows (please don’t buy followers, they are just bots), and traffic to your site that originated from social media, you might not be able to SEE the results.

Take the traffic, mentions, sales numbers from a time period PRE-social media and compare them to the same sales period POST-social media and see how much social media is affecting the bottom line. OR measure the opportunities that have been opened as a result of being on social media, as in the case of media mentions coming from a tweet you sent.

BUTTTTT, most people aren’t going to do that measurement and prove the ROI and they aren’t going to pay for the social media marketing manager who will do that. So for social media as the be all end all for all marketing woes, I don’t think the masses should be told one piece and not the other. I don’t think social media marketing is the only method you should use or that it should be used in all cases and for every business. I also don’t believe that everybody who does social media marketing does it well or delivers and being transparent, I wonder if one can truly deliver if the expectation is wrong.

True, it’s up to each social media manager to prove his case and to educate the client, or for each person who manages their own accounts to learn that there is not only magic but also hard work involved in connecting and making true things happen using this medium.

Then there is direct marketing, mail marketing, content marketing, blogging, video, advertising, podcasts, broadcast, media buys and the full gamut. It all gets to be a lot for a small business. Big business get it (sometimes). My personal feeling is if you’re working with a limited budget, try the tactic that works, do it when it’s best to do it, and be consistent.

Does this mean I give up on social media? Nope. I love it. But I also am exploring direct mail marketing, leveraging Adwords (which is much easier to trace) and email marketing as a strategy to reach my audience. And what about a real PR campaign? Yeah, that’s on the radar. No more one off stuff.

So, there’s my inner musings. What are your thoughts on social media marketing and it’s effectiveness?



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