Facebook likes and Twitter followers do not equal success. If you are a fly-by-night, wannabee internet marketing consultant, then yes, by all means, use Facebook likes and Twitter followers to measure the success of your online marketing efforts. Otherwise, dig deeper to see if your social media efforts are worth the time and money spent.
Social media is about engaging with your audience, increasing brand awareness, and providing value to the visitors who land upon your Facebook page or Twitter profile. Notice I started with the concept of engagement, because at the core of social media is communication. Social media is about communicating with your audience in a two-way dialogue and utilizing that communication to help meet your marketing objectives.
When I hear people or companies brag about their high number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers my mind wonders back to high school homecoming and the quest to be crowned the queen. While I had no interest in becoming homecoming queen, becoming the reining queen of Facebook would be kind of cool. But I digress. We are grown ups and this isn’t about counting votes and proving to the world that you are the most popular Facebook page within your niche. It is about good old fashion marketing delivered over the world wide web.
I am on my social media soapbox because I am tired of witnessing consultants trick companies into thinking a growth in Facebook likes or Twitter followers is success. I am annoyed because the unsuspecting small business owner will believe it and will pay money for little value and virtual no return. I am on my soapbox, because I want to help small businesses and provide tangible value. I am angry because uneducated consultants are not just providing minimal value to small businesses, they are giving the rest of us a bad name and turning some small business owners away from social media.
I’m upset because it boils down to some simple math and a look at a few real world Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Sample Facebook Metrics for B2B and B2C Pages
One might look at website #6 and believe this brand is doing an exceptional job in their Facebook effort. After all, they have the most page likes, so they must be doing something right. Ah, no. Compare the percentages for B2B website # 1 and B2C website #6. The B2B brand is a lot more social media savvy than the B2C brand. While the number of likes for the B2C website is highest amongst the sample, the active Facebook page users and inbound website traffic from Facebook is very low. The B2B website has a much lower number of Facebook likes, yet has a much higher level of engagement both on Facebook and in traffic to their actual website. Website # 1 is doing a better job because the page provides value or actual content. Website # 6 just seeks out people to like it, but never actually puts anything on the page itself.
Sample Twitter Metrics for B2B and B2C Pages
Now look at the same two websites on Twitter. Both websites have a respectable number of Twitter followers, yet neither have an exceptionally high amount of traffic migrating from Twitter over to their actual website. I could go further into this data by providing mentions, tweet volume, and such, but I think I’m making my point and I don’t want to bore anyone to death.
What Do All the Social Media Numbers Really Mean?
This data can be diced and sliced in a variety of ways, but knowing these accounts like I do, I can conclude a lot just from the basic data I assembled above.
- First and foremost, the number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers does not equal success.
- Real social media success is more about engagement and less about the popularity contest.
- If you don’t provide content in your social media efforts, you’re going to struggle providing value. If someone visits a Facebook page that looks exactly like it did five months ago, the chances are they won’t come back and they won’t look further at you or your brand.
- Look beyond the numbers within your actual social media account. Look at tangible conversions to new leads, new clients, and repeat customer purchases or interactions.
- Before you engage in a social media campaign or with an internet marketing consultant, know what equates success. Don’t go by their promise to increase your followers of fans, because it means little if no one engages with your brand.
- Use tools like Google Analytics to provide tangible metrics on website referrals, duration or depth of visit, goals, and conversions to see if your social media activity is making a difference and providing value.
- You your own financials to see if social media is helping or hurting your bottom line.
- Don’t listen to or accept promises that seem to good to be true. They probably are much better in theory than in real life. I can increase your Facebook likes by 1,000 by giving someone on Fivver.com $5. This won’t mean anything unless it converts to something tangible for your brand.
- Don’t just focus on the short-term high of a promotion, event, or download. I believe the B2C sector does this in many cases. The B2C sector needs to take notice of their B2B counterparts who pay more attention to getting the audience back to their website to provide more value than just the one snippet in their status update or tweet.
- Social media is an upward battle that doesn’t just materialize into ultimate success overnight. An audience capable of delivering ROI will take time to build.
- If you’ve hired a social media consultant, validate their success yourself and don’t just take their canned reports or updates as success.
- Review your new social media audience to validate it against your target demographics. Facebook has excellent reports for viewing geography, age, etc. If you sell medical products to the geriatric set in Michigan, 20,000 teenagers in India are not really going to bring social media ROI.
- Not everyone is good at social media. If you are concerned about your ability, hire an expert. Just do so wisely.
- You can’t ignore social media. As much as I’m tired of hearing about the likes of Groupon, I know the company and their deals are here to stay. Twitter and Facebook are also here to stay, so get used to it and embrace it.
- Integrate social media with your website to both connect long-term with your visitors and to allow them to share your promote your content to their own network. Good content will bring likes and followers.
If you haven’t yet engaged in social media, now is the time. Just remember not every internet marketing consultant is legit, honest, or even educated enough to provide social media marketing. If you are outsourcing your social media, then make sure you pick someone who truly understands traditional marketing efforts, your messaging, your industry, and what you consider to be social media success.