I’ve seen it over and over again. A business owner will hire a social media manager or create an Instagram account and expect a massive increase in sales practically overnight.
I’m here to give you a reality check – just like all marketing efforts, social media marketing takes time.
(Sidebar: for the purpose of this article, “social media marketing” refers to the organic content marketing strategy you’re deploying on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. – not paid advertisements.)
Chances are, if you’ve recently implemented a solid social media strategy and you don’t think it’s “working,” you haven’t given it long enough.
I totally understand the frustration. Delayed gratification can be frustrating in any scenario, much less in a business where you’re putting money in and waiting to get money out.
This can cause many business owners to put off or forgo marketing altogether. This is a major, major mistake.
But, there’s good news. If you know that your marketing efforts will take time and you’re patient, you will speak to your customers in a way that will grow solid relationships – not scream at them to hurry up and buy your product.
So why, exactly, does social media marketing take time? After all, it’s a pretty instantaneous outlet. You put out a message, you get a message back. Voila!
The key is to remember that it is marketing, and just like all your marketing efforts, there are reasons to be patient.
- Creating content shouldn’t happen in five seconds
Before you even click “post,” there should have been a lot of thought that goes into your content creation. If you logged onto your business’ Facebook Page, thought “Oh it’s National Hot Dog Day? I guess I’ll post a picture of a hot dog,” you’re already doing it wrong.If you only learn one thing from me, let it be this. I would rather you not post anything at all than chip away at your brand image by posting totally irrelevant content.It's better to not post anything at all than to chip away at your brand with irrelevant content. Click To TweetYou should have a purpose and a schedule behind everything you post on social media. The second your marketing time clock starts is the minute you sit down with a coworker or just your computer and brainstorm ideas.
If you don’t do that, I promise it will take much, much longer to see any success from what you’re posting.
The good news is that I’ve created a workbook with 20 different social media marketing campaign ideas that you can make work for your brand.
- You have to build relationships
Social media isn’t just about getting one message out to someone for the first time and hoping they immediately hop over to your site and make a purchase. If it were, every single post would be a link to a product (and then we would hate it and never get on the Internet).Just like you build relationships with friends or partners, you need to build a relationship with your customers or clients.
It’s no secret that I am a big user of dating apps. If you follow me on Twitter (<—shameless promo) you’ve probably seen me joke about them a lot. But sometimes they make themselves useful for good analogies.
If I match with someone on Bumble, for example, and I immediately message them, “Hey. Buy me dinner!” I’m probably not going to have a very high success rate. (And honestly if that were the case I’d get free dinner every night.)
But if I engage with them in a more real way that shows that I’m interested in who they are before I hope that they will spend money on me, I’m much more likely to at least end up with a couple of glasses of sangria and some calamari.
Think of your business’ social media presence as a dating profile. I mean, don’t announce that you’re “fluent in sarcasm” and “6’1” if that matters,” but woo your audience like you would woo a potential date.
Don’t be pushy. Have respect for your customer.
Get to know who your audience is, and provide them with content regularly that will get them to understand who your brand is and why they’d want to spend more time with it.
- Consistency builds trust
I think we all know this. This is not some new, eye-opening sentence I’ve just written.But for some reason, many people who know that consistency builds trust, still hope that after two tweets and a snap they’ll sell $500 worth of product to a customer who was just introduced to them.
So what exactly do I mean by consistency? First, the obvious. You must regularly update your profiles so that your audience receives your message intermittently over time. If you post 10 times a day for two weeks and then go silent for two months, people will forget about you and they’ll view you as unprepared and unprofessional. Not to mention your engagement will go down, which will affect your reach on many popular social media sites because of their algorithms.
Consistency also covers tone and content. If your brand is using emojis one day and talking about 15th century art history’s effect on modern culture the next, people aren’t going to understand who you are and that will make them wary of you.
This is really where having a solid content strategy and schedule comes into place.
- Be aware of soft benefits
The best thing you can do to remain patient while you wait for your social media marketing efforts to work is to be aware of the soft benefits of what you’re doing.No, you may not make a hard sale from an organic customer right away, but you truly are slowly building awareness. If you have corresponding marketing efforts that match your branding and tone, your customer will remember you when they see your banner ad or pass your outdoor board.
In fact, one study showed that 80% of businesses saw an immediate benefit in awareness within the first year of social media marketing, compared to a 35% who saw in increase in sales.
This isn’t meant to scare you or discourage you from social media marketing. (Obviously, why would I do that when that’s what I do for a living?)
But I would not be a good marketer if I sold false promises to my clients by making them believe that a 20% increase in followers in one month is going to make a major difference to their bottom line.
The problem with social media is that it seems so attainable because of how easy it’s accessed by non-marketers. Business owners expect a TV ad to take time because it’s not something they can create and run on their own.
It’s important to remember that social media marketing and your personal social media are two completely different things. It will take longer for your customer to trust a business than it would if you were someone they met at spin class that one time.
However, if you put in the time it takes to see results, I promise you that you will see results. You just have to be patient.