Social media marketing has become essential for organisations who have been told, time and again, that they need to be on social networks, because that is where their customers are.
But what many marketers and company executives fail to understand is that, unless you start with paid advertising on social networks, social media marketing takes time to deliver results.
Sure, you can throw a whole lot of money at it and hope some of it will stick. But, like the old saying in marketing, chances are that you are wasting at least 50% of your budget in ads that may or may not be working.
That’s because social networks are not about marketing. They were not created for that purpose. The purpose of social networks is connection. They connect people to one another, helping messages spread faster through a community than ever before.
This is the aspect of social media that marketers want to capitalize on, but it is not going to translate into a significant return on investment (ROI) unless you have already built a community of people who like and trust your brand. And that takes time.
Even if you are willing to spend money on Facebook ads to get more likes or promote your products, it takes months to build a following of genuine fans who will respond to your posts and take the actions you want them to take.
In the early days, it was easier to build a large community of followers on Twitter, but of late they have begun to suspend accounts for following too many people in a single day and for other ‘suspicious practices’.
No one can blame Twitter for cutting down on this either, because when companies use it solely as a broadcasting medium for news and updates about their products, it detracts from the user experience on the network, and that is what Twitter, as a company, cares about most.
So if you start creating a presence on social media today, expecting that you will be able to get a massive response in a few weeks or even a month, you are going to be sorely disappointed.
Just like a garden that must be nurtured one plant at a time, you need to nurture your relationships with your community, one person at a time.
So start using social media for all the right reasons –
For genuinely listening to your customers
For conducting research on their needs
For answering customer queries
For providing great customer support
For sharing remarkable content
For offering exclusive deals and discounts
For creating brand advocates
If you use it for the reasons above, you will end up creating a very valuable resource, in terms of a social media community that will return the love and respect you give them many times over. And that is something that money can never buy.