Should your business be a Social Butterfly?

Long gone are the days where business owners would ask us the question “should we be on Facebook?”

Most businesses now take it as read that social media is how the world communicates and know they need to be at the party if they are going to get the chance to socialise.

But, with social media long past its infancy, and such a plethora of social platforms to choose from, social is a complicated landscape for businesses to navigate.

From day dot we’ve been meticulous about tracking the effectiveness of social media activity for our clients. Does it create action? Do they visit our website? Does that lead to a sale? What’s the ROI? What’s the return on effort? That’s easier to do in some businesses than others, e-commerce businesses in particular are the easiest to track route from social media postings right through to a completed sale. In a business to business environment, it can be trickier to show outcomes.

But, with all these insights, it’s only right that analysis and action follows. We’ve seen quite a bit of evidence of rationalisation among businesses in the last twelve months with many deciding to proactively remove their brands from certain social platforms, rather than continue to spend time and resources feeding a content machine that is simply not making them money.

This is a brave new world. The social media fanatics would have us believe that not to be active on all of these platforms is tantamount to playing dead. And I can sort of see why this is. The world, as they see it, is all social, social, social. But is being a social butterfly really good for business?

The reality is that social media is an investment of considerable human time, cold hard cash and, at the end of the day, all of these platforms have to stack up in marketing metrics to make the resources invested into them commercially worthwhile. Like never before, John Wanamaker’s words ring in my ears: half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half. With social media, in particular, it’s too easy to write off the time taken to develop content and deliver it as free. If you want a true gauge of the cost of your social media efforts, tot up what outputs you have in any given month, contact an agency and ask them to quote for doing the same thing.

But social media is trackable, right? It must be easy to evaluate? Wrong. Big data is also real. So much data that the business doesn’t know where to start and what to look at. Which metrics matters? Take Facebook’s weekly page insights report it kindly sends you by email every week. You would be forgiven in thinking that declining reach or engagement from the previous week is the end of the world. However if last week you had a major product launch and this week none, then that dip is perfectly acceptable. And, not wishing to be entirely cynical, Facebook is actually selling paid for solutions to all of the items it covers in its brief report, and none of Facebook’s statistics tell me if your business actually made money. That’s for you to track.

So, we’re seeing the tides turn a little. In the last 6 months alone, and armed with valuable insights prepared by us, we’ve undertaken the following actions for clients:

  • removed them from instagram
  • created instagram accounts
  • removed them from tumblr
  • removed them from facebook
  • added them to facebook
  • removed them from twitter
  • added them to twitter
  • rationalised multiple twitter accounts
  • rationalised and merged multiple facebook pages
  • reduced the volume of posts and activity on social accounts (less is more)
  • increased the volume of posts and activity on social accounts

Social media strategies for businesses are, like any good marketing strategy, constantly evolving and so they should. Content marketing should be about fulfilling the needs of that strategy, not an end in itself. Digital marketing should be about driving reach, engagement and action (ideally towards a commercial benefit for the business) and social media is no exception to that rule. Anything else is just noise. And, dare I say it, there’s a lot of that going around.

So what are we saying? It’s OK to be a social butterfly if it’s working. But it’s also OK not to be a social butterfly. It’s OK to evaluate how effective these platforms are for your business. It’s OK to decide to stop using them, even if that feels like you’re bucking the trend. If you have the insights and the analytics to back up your decision, then it’s a good business decision. And it’ll save you time, money and allow you to focus your marketing resources on something that will potentially be more effective, and who doesn’t want their marketing to be effective?