An interesting question that crops up from time to time that still surprises me, is when a client we’ve been working with for a number of months asks if social media is “worth it”.
Where social media is concerned, there’s a short answer to that question, as well as the long version. The short answer would be a unquestioning yes, while the longer version isn’t negative, although it’s not as clearly positive as the short version. There is a real reason behind the difference in the answers however, and I’ll get to those in a minute. But first I’ll give a few pointers as to why social media is a good thing to do in general.
The way that I’ve found is simplest to describe social media marketing to clients with the least amount of confusion is to use the idea of parking lot flyers. You know the ones, when you go to the mall to pick up your holiday shopping and you come outside to find a flyer underneath your wiper blades or a card tucked into your window frame. It’s mildly inconvenient, only in that you have a slip of paper or cardboard to deal with, but chances are in that split second while you deal with you, you’ll be reading the content of that piece of paper. You get your message out to hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in very short order, but there’s no immediate response or interaction between you. That’s the clear short answer of “yes social media marketing is good”.
Social marketing methods like using Twitter or Facebook kind of fall into the same level of advertisement quality. The key difference though where the web is concerned is how actively you want to engage your potential audience. And this is where the grey area comes into play with using that type of audience interaction. With the flyer idea, it’s like a fire and forget method, and you get what you get in the end. The conversion and retention rates are likely to be low, but you’re going for a saturation effect. But where online is concerned, you’ll be able to directly correspond with your customer base, so you can engage them in conversation, whether it’s to answer questions about your advertising campaign or perhaps a special that you’re trying to promote. The long answer of “yes it’s good but..” is you will only get as much out of social media marketing as you’re able to put into it. If you can only setup a campaign but pay no attention to it, you’re just as well off paying a couple of youths to distribute flyers in a mall parking lot.