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7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting A Social Media Marketing Campaign

You’re ready to start doing your company's marketing using social media! You know HOW to do it, but do you know WHY?
Written Jan 10, 2011, read 5075 times since then.
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Starting a social media campaign for your business is like entering into a relationship. For it to succeed over the long term you must be committed to it and have realistic expectations as to what you’ll get out of it.

Current statistics show that that 73% of Twitter registrants have posted fewer than 10 messages and one third have posted none at all.

The majority of Facebook fan pages give visitors no incentive to “like” the page. As well, they rarely develop ongoing communication campaigns catered to their fans.

These trends are a clear indication that both people and businesses are participating in social media with either no plan, no goals, or no idea why.

So before you make your first tweet, create a Facebook fan page, or start searching for Linked In connections, ask yourself these questions. The answers may help you better focus your time, resources, and better understand how to include social media into your company’s marketing program.

Why do I want to participate in social media?
With social media “experts” declaring that any business not tweeting or without a Facebook fan page is losing business to competitors, many entrepreneurs feel compelled to participate out of fear. This just leads to frustration when time and money is spent on setting up accounts and custom pages, only to not see any measurable results. The fact is that social media is like any other marketing tool and may not be right for every business. Even so, it must still be used effectively, perhaps as part of a bigger campaign, for any benefits to be seen.

Do I have the time and resources?
Unlike conventional marketing such as ads in a newspaper, direct mail, or even a web site, social media requires continuous attention. Depending on your business, this could range from a few minutes a day to over an hour. Do you have the time, desire and patience to make regular and relevant tweets or update your Facebook page? And while you could have a staff member or virtual assistant do this for you, that means allocating resources and money that you may or may not be able to afford, or could better be used elsewhere.

Can I continuously come up with great content?
Unlike a blog where you can post content on your own schedule, making social media work means posting interesting and relevant content on an ongoing basis. Depending on which guru you listen to, this can mean a few tweets a day to more than 10 per hour. Can you keep up this pace? And do you really have enough to say? Even sharing a mix of personal anecdotes, relevant links, retweets, and business information can only go so far before you start getting mentally exhausted – and frustrated.

What are my goals?
Unless you’re involved in social media for purely social purposes, it’s likely that you are hoping to get some form of financial return out of it. The goals of attracting more clients and more sales is what drives most businesses to social media in the first place. So let’s be realistic – from a business perspective, followers, friends, fans and connections are really nothing more than lists. And if the names on those lists are not the kinds of clients you would like to attract, then you may be preaching to the wrong crowd. The best thing to do is decide what your goals are from the start. For many businesses, clients can come from any geographic area or be any demographic, so social media may be ideal. Think about if you’re trying to create awareness for your company, product, or just you.

What are my alternatives?
Social media is just one of hundreds of ways to reach people. Depending on your goals you may find some old fashioned methods produce better results with less resources. Trade shows, direct mail, email, seminars, networking events, newspaper ads, or publicity stunts can still garner the kinds of result you may be looking for. Many companies have successfully used social media to build word-of-mouth “momentum” that originally started from a conventional marketing campaign. Remember the old spice guy? That campaign started as just a television commercial and went on to become the most successful social media campaign ever.

Do people really care?
The open forum concept of Twitter, Facebook and Linked In groups allows for huge numbers of people to talk about common interests. But let’s be honest here. Is your business worthy of discussion? A client of mine who is a self employed dental hygienist was disappointed when her tweets and Facebook postings garnered little response. While they were quality posts, it seemed teeth cleaning was just not a big draw for online discussion. It can be tough to hear, but sometimes the world does not share your passion about your product or service.

How do I measure success?
While many web designers and consultants will point to Google Analytics when asked about return on investment, the fact is that ROI can only be measured in dollars and cents. Your time and resources are worth something, so you must put a value to them and factor that in when developing your social media campaign. If you make $80.00 an hour doing what your core service is, then investing 10 hours in social media will cost you $800.00. If you don’t make that money back in a reasonable period of time, then you will have a negative return. Factor in other costs such as a graphic designer or marketing consultant, and your costs will be even higher. Success should be defined by a set of criteria before you begin your campaign – social media or otherwise.

Think of social media as just one tool in your marketing toolbox. And the most effective marketing campaigns come from knowing what tools to use and when to use them, either alone or in combination.

Speaker/Marketing Consultant 
Toronto, Ontario Canada 
Marc Gordon

Marc Gordon is a professional speaker and marketing consultant based in Toronto. Learn more about Marc at http://marcgordon.ca or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MarcGordonDotCA

Learn more about the author, Marc Gordon.

Comment on this article

  • CTO - Chief Technology Officer At Large 
Seattle, Washington 
Andrew Lippert
    Posted by Andrew Lippert, Seattle, Washington | Jan 10, 2011

    This is a must read! Unless you can address each issue Marc raises with positive, business building responses, you are in for a world of disappointment and frustration with social media. You read it on Biznik! Thank you Marc.

  • Speaker/Marketing Consultant 
Toronto, Ontario Canada 
Marc Gordon
    Posted by Marc Gordon, Toronto, Ontario Canada | Jan 11, 2011

    Andrew, Thanks for the great compliment! Glad you liked it.

  • Copywriter 
Everett, Washington 
Brendan McCrain
    Posted by Brendan McCrain, Everett, Washington | Jan 11, 2011

    This is good advice Marc, some businesses won't ever see good ROI with social media marketing. There is the opportunity to use it for customer service though. My web host has a superb record of responding to inquiries via Twitter and while it doesn't bring in anyone new, it goes a long way toward retention and brand loyalty.

  • Chief Executive Officer 
Federal Way, Washington 
Richard Whitaker
    Posted by Richard Whitaker, Federal Way, Washington | Jan 11, 2011

    Great article. I would only add will it reach my target market.

  • Online Presence and Social Media Strategiest 
Butler, New Jersey 
Michael Cohn
    Posted by Michael Cohn, Butler, New Jersey | Jan 11, 2011

    Excelent! Couldn't write this article in better words.

  • Speaker/Marketing Consultant 
Toronto, Ontario Canada 
Marc Gordon
    Posted by Marc Gordon, Toronto, Ontario Canada | Jan 11, 2011

    Brendan, you brought up a great point. Here's something to think about, customer retention reduces attrition, which directly adds to revenue. So in a matter of speaking, it still comes down to measurable ROI.

  • Speaker/Marketing Consultant 
Toronto, Ontario Canada 
Marc Gordon
    Posted by Marc Gordon, Toronto, Ontario Canada | Jan 11, 2011

    Michael, A great compliment! Thank you.

  • Holistic Business Coach 
Portland, Oregon 
Taylor Ellwood
    Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon | Jan 11, 2011

    Great article. I think it's really important that clients know why they're doing it and what activities they'll do that will actually help them connect with people.

  • Biznik Co-founder/CEO 
Seattle, Washington 
Lara Feltin
    Posted by Lara Feltin, Seattle, Washington | Jan 11, 2011

    Fantastic article, Marc. You've hit another one out of the park.

    I think it's important to clarify one word that's missing from your title and summary, the word marketing - as in "social media marketing campaign".

    Social media is an broad term to describe a lot of tools. When used for marketing, it's about engaging your customers.

    I clarify because Biznik often gets lumped into these conversations. Yet as a social media tool - aside from the SEO - Biznik provides little opportunity for interaction with your customer. Rather, Biznik uses social media to engage in peer-to-peer business networking by providing tools for establishing your reputation and building relationships. This is the kind of networking that leads to resources, support, new ideas, inspiration, referrals, new business, opportunities for collaboration, and education. Yet this kind of social media participation cannot be measured in dollars and cents like traditional ROI.

    Twitter's another social media basic that can be used for peer-to-peer relationship building and reputation management. Which means not all of your Twitter ROI can be measured in dollars and cents, either.

  • Speaker/Marketing Consultant 
Toronto, Ontario Canada 
Marc Gordon
    Posted by Marc Gordon, Toronto, Ontario Canada | Jan 11, 2011

    Lara, excellent points and good advice. Thanks!

  • Marketing Strategist, Consultant and Manager 
San Francisco, California 
Elissa Everett
    Posted by Elissa Everett, San Francisco, California | Jan 12, 2011

    I love this post -- I see so many people blindly adopting marketing tools just because they are NEW and SHINY, and they're not thinking about if it makes sense for their business. Or if they have the time to care and feed for these tools (like social media marketing involves.)

    I urge clients to pretend and practice for 30 days. Write a pretend blog, twitter, FB posting -- and review them with a trusted client to see if she/he finds the content interesting and would feel compelled to respond.

    These tools are a great conversation tool -- not just a bullhorn. Business owners needs to have time for the conversation -- as well as have it pay off.

    My humble $.02.

  • Biznik Co-founder/CEO 
Seattle, Washington 
Lara Feltin
    Posted by Lara Feltin, Seattle, Washington | Jan 12, 2011

    (I see you added the word "marketing" into your title and summary now, Marc.) :)

  • Social Media Marketing Consultant, Coach and Speaker 
Worcester, Worcestershire United Kingdom 
Sue Cartwright
    Posted by Sue Cartwright, Worcester, Worcestershire United Kingdom | Jan 12, 2011

    Hi Marc,

    I really like this post because it clearly sets out the reasons why so many social media campaigns fail to meet the expectations of a new user.

    Many of my clients are actually quite shocked when they realise how much is involved. Much of my work is devoted to helping them see the big picture, formulate a strategy that aligns with their existing branding and marketing activities and then breaking it down into a realistic and doable plan of action.

    This takes time and commitment but when people realise this, formulate a clear strategy and roll it out as a process of learning, implementation and continuous development, the return on investment can be realised from day one.

    Thank you for sharing your insights.

  • Owner/Recruiter  
South Plainfield, New Jersey 
Naima  Lynah
    Posted by Naima Lynah, South Plainfield, New Jersey | Jan 12, 2011

    This is a fantastic article. Many great pointers. I know what it is I want to achieve, but I don't have time or much to say to be tweeting as much as it's stated here.

    It is hard to keep up with interesting things on my facebook page and merchantcircle page. I find that I have to expend a lot of time during the day to keep those up and my twitter page is lacking.

    After reading this, I might even take that page down. Thanks for the time and valued information that you shared.

  • Owner/Culture Consultant/Assist Businesses and Organizations achieve their goals on a people to people level 
Green Bay, Wisconsin 
Shannon Stone
    Posted by Shannon Stone, Green Bay, Wisconsin | Jan 12, 2011

    I would agree with you Mark that Google Analytics by itself does not give a good measure of ROI. However, used properly it can give a measure of effectiveness of the value of your shared content and topics. Additionally, this should give you insight toward who is your target audience. Then you can refine your message for maximum impact and ultimately engage in profitable conversations.

  • Marketing Strategist and Business Consultant 
San Francisco, California 
Amy Harcourt
    Posted by Amy Harcourt, San Francisco, California | Jan 12, 2011

    This is an outstanding article! Thank you for writing it, Marc. I totally agree with your strategic approach. If it doesn't move business forward (in a profitable, sustainable way), then don't do it.

  • Professional Bookkeeper 
Englishtown, New Jersey 
Josephine Licata
    Posted by Josephine Licata, Englishtown, New Jersey | Jan 12, 2011

    Great article! Very helpful. I'm a new business owner and have been constantly looking for marketing ideas on an very tight budget. I did create a facebook page hoping that would attract clients. It's not going as well as I'd like it to.

  • Wedding DJ 
Sittingbourne, Kent United Kingdom 
John Padmore
    Posted by John Padmore, Sittingbourne, Kent United Kingdom | Jan 12, 2011

    I don't think a facebook page would 'attract' clients - its more of a tool to engage with them

  • Wedding DJ 
Sittingbourne, Kent United Kingdom 
John Padmore
    Posted by John Padmore, Sittingbourne, Kent United Kingdom | Jan 12, 2011

    I think facebook have stopped using the term fan page.

  • DPM Creative Group 
Enmore, Australian Capital Territory Australia 
Mark Fitzpatrick
    Posted by Mark Fitzpatrick, Enmore, Australian Capital Territory Australia | Jan 17, 2011

    Great article! Thanks! I think the key is to ask yourself if you heart is really into this endeavor. Social media marketing is a grueling quest and it may take away until you see solid results. I was lucky enough to work with a great design team in Sydney and they did a great job with my social media marketing, but it was a long process. Be patient if you want progress.

    Thanks for the great article. -Mark

  • Strategy Advisor/ Growth Mentor/ Small Business Coach 
Boulder, Colorado 
Mark P Friedman
    Posted by Mark P Friedman, Boulder, Colorado | Jan 22, 2011

    Marc, terrific and relevant article. Despite the preachings of so many social media gurus, social media requires the same discipline as any other marketing campaign - what do we want to accomplish, who do we want to talk to, what do we want to say that's differentiated and relevant, how do we ensure we are credible and trustworthy, how does this fit with our other priorities, and how will we measure results?

    Thanks for bringing some sanity to a topic inflated by too much hot air!

  • Marketing Manager 
Bemidji, Minnesota 
Kristin  Hovde
    Posted by Kristin Hovde, Bemidji, Minnesota | Mar 02, 2011

    No matter what industry you are in, social media will definitely increase your customer and networking community. It has even became a normal part of trade show exhibiting to increase traffic to booths. Thanks for the article!

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