Social media marketing . . . It depends who you choose to believe

“Likes” or sales?

The thumbnail version:

  • There are pros and cons to consider before marketing on social media
  • There are two very important metrics to keep in mind
  • You could be wasting time and money by following the herd

The full version:

Nowadays there seems to be an article every other day with headlines like this: “Social Media Marketing Strategies during COVID-19.” That’s one point of view. Then there’s another such as expressed in the book by BJ Mendelson, Social Media Is Bullshit.

Somewhere between the position that all small businesses should be marketing via social media and the position that they shouldn’t, potentially lies a middle position. That position holds that social media marketing may be somewhat successful for some types of businesses. The key is to establish whether yours is one of those types of businesses; establish whether the cost and time justifies the sales it generates. This is not easy to establish, but establish it you must or your business could end up proving Medelson’s premise.

Social media advocates like to talk about “awareness”, “profile”, and “relationships” in a way that implies they’re good for business, but can seldom demonstrate that they do actually turn into business in sufficient volume to justify the effort. You can’t take “awareness” to the bank. This is a modern-day digital version of the old conundrum in traditional advertising—how does a small business measure the cost/benefit ratio of an advertising campaign? Does “awareness” turn into cash?

When assessing the social media platforms as potential marketing resources for your shop, there are a couple of metrics to keep in mind:

  1. Numbers of “likes”, “links”, “friends” or “followers” seldom correlate with sales made—they’re for the most part vanity metrics.
  2.  As Mendelson writes: “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.”

It’s tempting and easy to get caught up in the stampede into social media marketing, but depending upon the nature and circumstances of your business, you may want to take a different and more carefully considered path from the herd.