It’s true that social media is a cheap and simple way to give your small business an awareness boost, but there’s sometimes a misunderstanding about how quickly the results from all this tweeting and posting will come in.
One of the biggest positive aspects of social media advertising is that it puts smaller and hidden businesses on the same plane as the big guys, at least potentially. There are certainly advantages given to bigger companies when it comes to platforms like Twitter; large corporations have better name recognition which lends itself to more followers. But with hard work, strategy and some luck, anyone can get big on social media as long as they’ve got the right formula down.
This, however, doesn’t happen overnight, and neither do the sales numbers that come with being recognized on Twitter. Schaefer Marketing Solutions studied the data from 4,000 marketers, mostly those from small businesses and found out social media success is definitely a waiting game.
While the study done hasn’t gone through testing and rigorous fact-checking, the data found rings true with many small businesses who try for more exposure and sales via social media. The research released shows that while about 80% of small businesses achieved their awareness goals using social media than less than a year, less than half of them achieved their desired sales goals.
This goes to show that going viral or having a lot of followers doesn’t always mean you’ll be raking in the money you want to. While social media can definitely give a small business more exposure, there are still a lot of reasons why someone will retweet their Twitter content, but they won’t actually click the link and buy something.
Small businesses have a list of things they expect from their social media strategies, which measuring these expectations is how they judge whether or not they are successful. Most small businesses expect, more than anything, to get more brand and company awareness from their strategies, with web traffic coming in at a close second.
Other social media expectations include consumers developing more brand loyalty to their products or company, insight into their market and audience and sales lead generation.
The bottom of the list shows that only about half of the expectation concerns partnership and networking, thought leadership establishment, new sales and cost reduction. Compare the concrete statistics: 90% of businesses expect more awareness, which is a very large number. Meanwhile, only 51% expect new sales. Why is this?
The reason behind this large gap is because small businesses understand of the realities of social media. It’s very easy to get exposure with the right strategy put in place, but it’s much harder to get someone to buy a product based on one Facebook post. Social media is very much a game of quality, not of quantity. Tweeting 50 links a day might snag one or two interested customers, but this is likely by chance. Several quality and thought out tweets a day, however, helps to establish a business as something to be valued and not just an obvious advertising scheme.
Separate these benefits into “hard” and “soft” categories. The previous examples of awareness and new sales are “soft” and “hard,” respectively. According to the findings of Schaefer, businesses can see a boost in exposure almost immediately, but an increase in sales only goes up by small percentages over the years. Compare the 35% of businesses who saw their sales goals achieved after one year to those who worked on it for more than five years: 70% of those businesses say that their sales met their expectations.
This means that while your exposure will typically always see a boost, your chances of sales success are only guaranteed if you spend years working at it, and even then there’s still a possibility you won’t get what you’re looking for.
The Final Say
News like this may make you think that the time spent on social media isn’t a great ROI statistic. This is not the case. What some don’t fully understand about social media is that the point of using it isn’t to make a lot of immediate sales.
Social media connections aren’t strong, thus shouldn’t be treated as such. Your social media investment is about opening doors and getting people to notice you, and from their working on gaining value with an audience so they DO start giving you the sales numbers you want. Just remember: social media investment isn’t going to give you overnight success, but the results you will get are worth waiting for.