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Social Media is Just a Fad

If you’re a marketer who works a lot with social media (like myself), you’ve no doubt come across a potential client who is … let’s just say … not quite sold on the usefulness of social media. Despite the countless statistics and case studies of social media’s success in the marketing world, some people are still convinced it’s nothing more than a fad. I’ve done just fine without it. None of my customers use Facebook. Oh sure, I bet it works when you’re marketing to younger people, but…

Often times, the argument is more concealed. I know I should be on social media, but I can’t justify spending the time and money. It’s less blunt, but it’s the same argument.

To you and me — and anyone else who spends a lot of time marketing through social media — these arguments don’t hold up. Just look at the recent statistics. Social media marketing budgets are projected to double in the next five years (SocialTimes). 83% of B2B marketers invest in social media to increase brand exposure; 69% to increase web traffic; and 65% to gain market insights (Social Media Today). 87% of small businesses say social media helps them win business (Media Bistro). What’s the holdup, people?

Why they haven’t joined social media yet

Whenever I’m pitching a client, my questions vary from industry to industry. But one question stays constant: “Regarding your company’s broader goals, what do you hope to accomplish with your social media channels?”

The answer is always the same. I don’t mean it’s mostly the same, or that nine out of 10 times, it’s the same. It’s always the same: “I want to increase sales.” I have never had a client tell me anything else. Sometimes, it’s thinly-veiled behind a “I want to strengthen relationships with my customers,” but mostly it’s pretty blatant.

I appreciate this answer, though, because it means they’ve got their priorities straight. A large audience means nothing if that audience isn’t buying product. Nevertheless, this gets at the reason behind some businesses’ hesitancy to hiring social media managers. They don’t see the connection between Facebook, Twitter and their bottom line. Your job is to show them the possibilities. As a marketer, you know social media works because you’ve seen it in action. Use the following tips to champion your online skills.

Don’t: Use statistics. Stating that 87% of small businesses say social media helps them win business doesn’t help you make your case. It’s too abstract. If they’ve got a working model, it’s not going to matter to them what 87% of their peers are doing.

Do: Use case studies, preferably ones that you’ve managed. The cliched advice to “show, don’t tell,” proves itself useful once again. Talk about your clients that have seen sales jump or media placements increase due to your social media efforts. Be sure to tie back your accomplishments to the business goals. I mentioned it above, but it’s worth repeating: A massive audience is meaningless unless those people are also buying products.

Do: Use numbers to back up your case studies. This is where you get to pull in all the statistics that you want, but make sure they are things like revenue increases, product downloads, customer sentiment, etc. Not audience size. Remember — make it relevant. This is a sales pitch, not a masters thesis on social media marketing. General industry trends don’t matter. Trends don’t bring in money.

Do: Give a brief analysis of their competitors. If other businesses in their industry have huge followings, you can truthfully say your potential client has plenty of room to grow. Clearly there’s an interest. If other businesses have no followings at all, then your client can be a leader in the marketing efforts. Note that these arguments are much easier if you can back them up with a case study.

Don’t:  Over promise. Some industries will do better online than others, so don’t make promises you can’t keep (i.e. 100% increase in revenue).

Don’t: Limit your creativity. Even though some things aren’t easily marketed online, don’t limit yourself. I wouldn’t have guessed that marketing men’s razors would have been easy, but Dollar Shave Club (and it’s 1.1 million Facebook followers) proved it’s possible.

Concluding:

While each of these do’s and don’ts are things I’ve learned from my own experience, a lot of them are just basic rules of sales, with a little social media spin. Remember, as with any product or service, your job is to help your client increase his or her bottom line. That goes for social media as well. Prove you can help a potential client increase revenue or reduce costs, and you’ll be very, very hirable.

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