Almost nine out of 10 US marketers (in companies with greater than 100 employees) are using social media marketing in one form or another. But it seems as though many companies are using it without realizing the potential for loss or gain. The hardest part has been the realization of ROI (return on investment) for social media marketing. The fact that it is an inbound marketing experience that truly has unlimited potential, makes it difficult to objectively ascertain the benefits. It seems as though the temporizing measure is to rely solely on internal metrics rather than external reflections on success. As we have discussed in our HBS case reports, such as HubSpot, the statistics and analytics that are available for social media platforms are out there and excellent, however not necessarily translating to creation of business value.
In a Harris Poll, it seems as though 67% of the respondents stated that a challenge with social media that has been faced by the company is assessing the effectiveness of the activities. This was followed closely by the ability to actually design a strategy and actually figure out something actionable from potential social media leads. With these major questions comping from medium to large US companies, how do we know that social media marketing is actually translating to new business?
For example, I have recently started a new company with 2 colleaugues- SmileMD, LLC (www.smile-md.com). This is a company in which we provide a solution of anesthesia providers to dental offices in need of sedation for their patients. So for example, a patient books a case with a dentist. The patient needs to have sedation because of dental anxiety or a prolonged painful procedure, there are very few anesthesia personnel in central ohio who would travel to an outpatient office and safely provide IV sedation for a patient. In starting a company from scratch we are trying to utilize free social media outlets- including facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. The problem is, it takes time for the word to get out, it takes energy or a social media team to keep sending out social media links/updates/tweets/etc. The biggest problem, so far, has been that our friends and colleagues and potential clients will follow or ‘like’ us, however it has not translated to any new business as of yet. Of course, we have not utilized a large social media marketing company yet, we have contracted with an individual who updates all of our social media outlets for us on a weekly basis. There have been no analyitics performed as of yet since we are relatively new. The advantage of social media in our situation would be to create ‘buzz’ and to get people more familiar with our name, brand and services.
In November of 2014, Facebook announced that that starting this month it will limit how many promotional posts people will see on business pages. This is in addition to an alogrithm change that was also announced by a facebook executive last year (over his blog) in regards to ‘trending topics’ as well as the relative nature of ‘likes and comments.’ Facebook feeds and updates will be based heavily on these two alogrithm changes. What this means is for a facebook business pages, marketing teams may post current and trending news links which have nothing to do with the business, just to maintain a trending presence on a news feed. This is just one easy way that a social media marketing team may ‘game’ the system to try to enhance a business strategy (similar to search engine optomization). Experts estimate that the organic reach for large social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is pretty close to zero. The average lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes. A leading social media expert, Jeff Bullas, estimates that the organic reach of Facebook is close to 2.5%. Nowadays, one can ‘buy’ followers to inflate numbers, meaning that someone may not be marketing to the actual audience that is interested in the product- leading to false leads.
Are people becoming desensitized and becoming tired of marketing plots on social media? Usually, people are on twitter or facebook to catch up with friends and family, and may become annoyed with different marketing challens, advertisements, etc. The New York Times best selling author Crystal Pain suggested a major setback since she had build a large social media following and relied on it for leads to maintain her business. Once facebook had changed an alogrithm her business plummeted- the article this is described in is entitled ‘Don’t Build Your Social Media House on a Rented Platform.’ When we think about it, the customers of the social media channel are customers of facebook or twitter, not cusomers of the marketing company. Author Kimanzi Constable stated ‘The changes in social media mirror those that happened in SEO a few years ago. There were entrepreneurs that built entire businesses on SEO, and after two Google algorithm changes, many of those buisnesses were wiped out. History is repeating itself with social media.’
This has been a very interesting and eye-opening experience for me- as a student, entrepenuer and physician. I hope this perspective allows my fellow classmates to considera an alternate perspective on our topic. In fact the point of social media, blogging and electronic discussions is to provide mutliple forms of perspective.