Why Social Media Isn’t Working for Your Business, and 6 Things You Can Do About It

Opinion: Get your followers to also follow you in other places where you can reach them

44 percent of businesses do not know if social media is working for them

“Facebook profit hits an all-time high, unaffected by recent scandals—so far.”

“Twitter posts record $100 million profit but loses 1 million users.”

The above are recent headlines from top publications about the profitability of two of the biggest social media networks’ advertising business models.

It gets interesting. The following screenshot (courtesy of Statista) shows Instagram’s revenue from 2015 projected through 2021.

With social media sites posting record profits every quarter, and with projections of an increase in their revenue year over year—based on the advertising business model they rely on—certainly, the businesses that advertise with them must be making bank? Not necessarily.

According to recent research from MDG Advertising, only 20 percent of businesses are able to measure the impact of social media on their bottom lines. A whopping 44 percent do not know if social media is working for them. In fact, a particular study provides an even clearer picture: 62 percent of small businesses report that Facebook ads aren’t working for them.

The question then, is: Should you do away with social media? That would be foolish. Social media sites aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, they will continue to be more of a force to reckon with. And for every business reporting social media to be ineffective, there is another experiencing massive success. You just have to know what you’re doing.

If you can work on the following six things, you can rest assured of an increase in the effectiveness of your social media efforts:

Realize that ‘social media’ isn’t a business model

Many business owners fail at getting results from their social media efforts because they expect “social media” to be their business model. For these businesses, regardless of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of other measures they put in place, they assume that all will work well once they can commit a lot of time and money into promoting their business on social media.

It doesn’t work that way.

Even for the social media networks, social media isn’t their business model—most top social media networks have an ads business model and, as a result, optimize every aspect of the experience on their platform to ensure that people keep advertising and paying them money.

If you want to get results from social media, you should realize that social media—no matter how much you are spending on advertising—is only a means to an end: It will get you clicks and exposure to users, but everything else from there on depends on you.

Start tracking your ROI

There’s only one way to know if your social media efforts are working, and that is by tracking your return on investment. Social media can be very deceptive: If you put out a post or an ad and get thousands of likes, it is easy to assume that your efforts are successful. Not necessarily.

You only know if your social media efforts work if you track. What is the cost of a click? How many clicks do you need to turn a profit? Did you set up conversion tracking? Most social media networks provide tools and means for you to track how your efforts are performing on social media, so start using them.

Leverage the familiarity principle

The familiarity principle states that we tend to be more receptive to, and liking of, something with more exposure to it. Depending on your industry and several factors, it can be difficult to effectively measure your ROI—or generate profit—if you only focus on people’s first exposure to your brand. This is where the familiarity principle comes in, which you can take advantage of through retargeting.

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