illustration found on mrgmi.com

illustration found on mrgmi.com

Now that the week is over, I will call it “the week when people challenged social media”.  I had a couple of clients who were pretty unimpressed by the response they got in the social media. Their problem was not with my work (thankfully!), but with the response they got. They thought that social media have created a hype that fails to live up to expectations, in terms of how useful they are, marketing-wise.  I can’t really disagree with them; unless they have a substantial marketing budget, the organic reach they get through their promotions is minimal – especially on Facebook.

I have examined their campaign results, and my clients are right: they are not getting the results they would as recently as a year ago.  They are posting nice pictures, appetizing photos (one client is in the food business) and smart quotes, and get great engagement, but poor sales.  Of course, the counterargument is that they are raising awareness of their brands and people will shop there at some point.  Which is fair enough; it just seems that the effort and money that they put into the whole exercise far exceed the expected outcome.

Another name I will give to this week is “the week of all coincidences”.  I ran into this blog post by the OutThink Group called “3 myths about social media marketing for authors.”  The main points of the post are the following:

The disappointing facts of social media

  • A large social media following does not automatically imply that social media work.  In general, people will follow you on social media because they have heard/read/listened about you somewhere else.  It is a bit of the chicken/egg conundrum.  So, you have to become visible through other means as well, since social media feed into the rest of your promotion, but do not instantly make you more noticeable on their own. Combine them with other marketing activities for best effect.
  • Don’t try to find out what you are doing wrong, you are probably doing everything right.  Many people advertise their social media-based success.  However, chances are that their success was partly due to their fame earned with other means, too.
  • A big following does not necessarily translate into big sales (unfortunately).  The rate at which social media followers click on your links is between 0.25% and 1%.  Of these, a similar percentage will buy the books. You probably need the population of China clicking on your links for you to make a decent living from a social media campaign alone.

What you should realistically aim for with social media

  • Connect with people you don’t know.  You make new friends, keep in touch will old ones, and it is a good technique to reach someone on a 1-to-1 basis.
  •  Sharing through media.  It’s the easiest and most practical way to share content, ideas and posts and to reach people whom you would never reach otherwise.  By inviting people to share your content with their people, you expand your scope.   

The exceptions to the rule

There is one big exception to the rule: In my experience, blogs work better than other social media.  Don’t get me wrong, I like my Facebook page –I happily share all those funny quotes and images about books, while chuckling at the cute photos of puppies- and I particularly enjoy going through Twitter and getting to meet new people.  I just believe that my blog best reflects who I really am.

Also, the material on a blog stays online forever (hopefully, thank you WordPress!), while people visit a blog because they expect to read something useful or close to their interests so it’s a more targeted audience than Facebook or Twitter.  Plus, the content is specific and relevant to my author persona, so it’s good from an SEO point of view, too.

Speaking of SEO, the other exception is Google+, Facebook’s awkward little brother. I have noticed that lately Google is promoting G+ heavily, in the form of search results. So, you might need ten times as much material posted on Facebook before you reach the same effect as a single post on Google+ (not that Google will ever admit this, of course; this is just my personal feeling). A hint, then: while everyone is out of Facebook posting their a$$ off, don’t forget to post a little something on G+ as well. It will be worth your while!

As always, I value your feedback. What do you think? Are social media overvalued or not?

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