Social Networking: Keeping it Real

Recently I passed a large billboard on the highway that was advertising a local car dealership. From experience in the advertising world, I know that billboard space on busy highways can cost as much as $10-$30,000 per month. Yes, you read that right – up to $30k per month in cities like Boston. So, this advertisement for a car dealership caught me by surprise when the entire message of the ad was focused on their Facebook presence. “Like Us!” it proclaims, using graphics and colors and that simulate a Facebook page. So presumably, the goal of this ad would be for the reader to see the ad while driving, then go home, remember the ad, open Facebook, search for the car dealership, click the “like” button, thereby receiving regularly scheduled dealership promotions that may eventually lead to a sale. A pretty long – and hopeful – series of events.

So, I’m driving, wondering, when did we get to this point? When did we become so obsessed with social marketing that we would see businesses using sizable portions of their marketing & advertising dollars on billboard ads for Facebook devotees? (After all, wouldn’t these dollars be better spent on Facebook advertising? That is, ads that are on Facebook that would engage readers that are already on the internet and therefore SO much closer to the eventual goal?) Amidst all this hype, and all these different social marketing platforms (Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc.) how do you decide if social marketing is a worthwhile tool for your business? Especially when it can mean taking valuable time from your employees to update and maintain on a regular basis.

Thankfully, there are real – trackable –  answers to these questions. If you aren’t already, use Google Analytics, or a similar program, to monitor the traffic and conversions on your site. If you are using Facebook, et al, see if these efforts are proving useful. If you are just starting to explore social marketing (SM), invest in a few months of Facebook advertising to build up your following and then start delivering regularly scheduled updates with special promotions only available to Facebook fans. If you are seeing results within 3 months, keep exploring. If you aren’t seeing results, it might be time to step back, take a look at your market and re-exavulate the best mode of contact.

Using SM to its best advantage means knowing your market, reviewing their behavior, and tactical experimentation. Be honest with yourself about how much time you have to use on SM sites. If you aren’t able to make a consistent commitment, then it might be better to continue with the marketing practices that have proven to successful for you. Furthermore, if you hate sitting at the computer and/or using these types of sites, don’t set yourself up for failure. Starting a marketing effort like a blog or Facebook and then abandoning soon after, can give your business that not-so-fresh look.

Social Marketing can provide a boon to your business if used properly. Understanding your goals, managing your expectations and realizing the time commitment involved will help you strike a successful balance for your business in Social Marketing.

Posted in advertising, blogs, marketing, Uncategorized, web

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