How many times have you heard that
“Social Media is a Marathon and not a Sprint”?
What does this really mean?
The six word secret formula for a successful Social Media strategy is the similar expression:
“Slowly and steady wins the race…”
… provided you bear in mind the following:
- Measure the right parameters: Lauren Bletcher in an article for Social Media Examiner states: “Don’t get distracted by vanity metrics (e.g., Facebook likes or Twitter followers) when you should be focusing on metrics that contribute to revenue.” She goes on to explain 3 ways in which you can use your Social Media to generate and quantify business leads through collection of e-mail addresses or use of targeted social adverts on twitter, Facebook and Google. It is NOT just about accumulating fans and followers.
- Keep your sales pipeline full of leads: Jenn Hanford points out 3 strategies small businesses can use to generate leads in her recent article for the Social Solutions Collective. She mentions segmentation, proper SEO and consistency. You must have a clear strategy and stick to it, day in and day out.
- Quantify your ROI: Don’t invest on Social advertising and stop at the cost per follower. Go all the way to calculate how much in SALES you’ve done from people who found you through Social Advertising. Work over a period of time as long as a few months (6 is better but you can start looking at results after 3 months). B Squared Media has prepared an ebook you can get for FREE from their website in which they guide you on how to calculate hard and soft ROI. It’s so good, you’re just going to have to download it NOW. Do SOME kind of calculations involving money spent and revenue. Remember that TIME is also MONEY.
- Have realistic goals: Don’t expect to increase your sales by a percentage that does not correspond to your real market. There is a limit as to how many new potential customers you can acquire, especially in small towns or when your product is very niche oriented. Invest in some sort of feasibility study before you plan any strategy.
As you can see, it is not simple to answer the question of how exactly Social Media is like a marathon. You have to know your niche, your budget, your metrics and set your goals. In practice, within a certain range, you can be as successful as you decide to be. Aim too high and you’ll be disappointed. Aim too low and you’re missing out on opportunity. Only time will show you how to find the right balance but the conditions also change constantly, so stay informed and reassess periodically.
Here are some practical lessons I have learned from experienced Cypriot business owners I have met in my journey as their Social Media strategist:
- Any new customer walking into their shop from awareness created by their Social Media presence is a positive outcome and determines they will continue with an active presence on the platforms and they will explore other possibilities these channels might offer. They realise how Social Media can really put them on the map. It works, so they keep doing what’s bringing them results.
- They have realistic expectations: They know Cyprus is a small market and there has been a slow down in the local economy, so they appreciate GROWTH. The magnitude of this growth is not as important to them as the trend itself. As long as new customers keep coming in they know they’re on the right track.
- They have a set budget and work around it: They don’t get caught in a sudden need to see their Facebook fan base grow overnight. They listen when I explain how organic growth takes place and they wait. In some cases it has worked beautifully and in other cases it hasn’t and we have stopped. Vanity metrics don’t concern them too much.
- They look at changes medium to long term: Patience is a virtue when it comes to growing a business in a small market like Cyprus. You have to remain focused in spite of the ups and downs and give yourself a period of time before you can judge whether to continue with your efforts or to readjust. Don’t expect immediate results, Social Media takes MONTHS to start making a tangible difference.
Your Turn: How important are Vanity metrics for you?
I’d really like to know because I have stopped focusing on increasing mine via Fanpage parties or Adverts. I’ve tried Timeline Contests but they haven’t been very successful either. It is a LOT easier to succeed on my clients’ social profiles than on my own due to the nature of my business. While I have made fantastic international connections in the past via these parties, increasing my followers via Fanpage parties hasn’t brought any business lately. Adverts on Social Media platforms are not so cost effective when you’re offering Social Media Services – in my experience. I suppose people who are using these platforms know the basics already. The business owners who need my services are the ones who don’t have the time to be on Social Media!
Epilogue: I have concentrated more on IRL (in real life) networking with organised groups and I do a lot of talking with shop owners I get the chance to meet while on my own errands. I have been very successful in convincing my local butcher and grocer about the benefits of Social Media. I suppose it’s a start and I feel we are very near the tipping point for massive use of Social Media marketing in Cyprus. Would love to hear your own experience and/or advice.
Thank you so much for reading. This has been my longest post EVER!