The great social media swindle

I’ve recently spoken with several business owners who feel ripped off by social media marketing agencies. They’ve been promised the earth but have seen little (if anything) in terms of sales as result of the money they’ve invested.

It’s one thing to get “likes” and “engagement” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. But what we really want is enquiries, leads and sales. This is where most “social media marketing” falls flat.

The state of social media marketing today is reminiscent of the SEO industry a few years ago. Thousands of SEO agencies sprung up proclaiming themselves experts. Google eventually made it harder and harder to manipulate the search engine results, and only the genuine SEO experts are now left.

The agencies looking for easy money have moved on to social media. The money passing hands has been huge. Promises of likes, shares, engagement with consumers who will then devour your products or services. Supposedly.

It seems to make sense. Go where the people are. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter. And certainly, for someone who has the time and commitment to create a genuinely unique presence on social media, it is possible to build a following and create a business around this.

But… and this is a big but… you can’t create this kind of truly unique social media presence simply by engaging an agency to post “content”. Sadly, the internet is already awash with too much “content”. Most social media marketing agencies are just churning out more mediocre mulch that will never produce sales or grow a genuine business.

My gut feeling, when social media marketing came along with all its promises, was to avoid it and stick mainly to paid advertising – Google AdWords and paid advertising on Facebook. I believe I made the right decision, as evidenced by the number of business owners I meet who feel swindled by social media agencies.

The fundamentals of marketing have not changed in 5000+ years. First, you need to create a “unique selling proposition” i.e. explain why your product or service is unique and why people should buy from you rather than one of your competitors. Unless you do this, all the social media or any other kind of advertising in the world will be useless.

Then you need to get your message squarely in front of people who are your target market. Persuade them to take action i.e. either contact you or buy something. Then supply the product or service they want.

That’s business in a nutshell. Always has been and always will be. Whatever new marketing channel might come along in future, you won’t get anywhere unless you stick to those fundamentals.

Paid advertising – done smartly – is always the fastest and usually the most cost effective way to grow a business. In fact, if you can’t generate sales profitably using paid advertising, you don’t really have a business.

So please, be careful with social media agencies. Ask some hard questions before investing money. Choose wisely and carefully, otherwise you could simply end up as one more sorry business owner who feels they’ve been swindled.

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