More on a social media marketing re-think

The thumbnail version:

  • “Followers” can just be a vanity metric
  • “Followers” don’t necessarily mean potential business
  • A current example demonstrates
  • Two quotes to note

The full version:

In the post of the 6th of this month the pros and cons of media marketing were mentioned along with a warning about being misled by vanity metrics such as number of “followers”, “friends”, “connections” etc.

Here is an example of why those metrics are referred to as “vanity metrics” and why they can be misleading for a small business owner hoping to focus a marketing effort on social media (as encouraged by many so-called social media marketing “experts”).

Shortly after the outbreak of the current COVID-19 pandemic, a doctor in Ontario who happens to have a well-followed Instagram channel in which she regularly posts plant-based recipes, decided to compile an e-book of her more popular and exotic recipes. The 50-recipe e-book was priced at $25 with all proceeds going to the Canadian Foodbank to help them with the increased demand resulting from the impact of the pandemic.

The project was co-sponsored by a womens’ health organization that actively promoted the project to its 70,000 Instagram followers. They hoped to raise $30,000. It seemed like a reasonable target for a great recipe book for a great cause. It would mean that all they needed was 1,200 sales or only 1 in 58 (less than 2%) of the 70,000 followers.

In the end they raised $8,500. That’s 340 sales or 1 sale per 205 followers—a far cry from the hoped for 1 sale per 58 followers. The conclusion? The number of followers is a meaningless metric in indicating potential sales. To repeat what BJ Mendelson wrote in his book, Social Media is Bullshit: “The only metric that matters for small businesses, artists and entrepreneurs is sales. If you’re not making money, you can’t keep on doing what you’re doing.”

Let’s have one more comment on this topic of social media marketing from Alex Lieberman, CEO of Morning Brew: “The best marketers don’t just understand Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. The best marketers understand anthropology, sociology, and psychology.”

You have a lot to think about before following the herd into social media marketing and neglecting more traditional marketing methods.