Beware of gambling money away on social media as a marketing tool.

The thumbnail version:

  • “Free” social media marketing is not free, it can be expensive
  • Cost/benefit is important to assess
  • Traditional branding and marketing may be a better option

The full version:

Don’t gamble away your branding and marketing efforts on low-return social media promotion.

I’ve just read yet another article in which the author recommends social media as an inexpensive way to brand and market a small business such as, for instance, a sign shop. It sounds so simple and, most importantly, the fact that it’s free seems to be the hook.

“Free” will appeal to any small business owner but what’s touted as “free”, is mostly not free. It just means that you don’t have to pay to post, but what about the valuable time you spend posting? Scroll down to the post of the 26th of August for more on this.

I’m all for a good website, a well-done blog, and a comprehensive e-mail list; I’ve seen plenty of evidence that these tools are essential for most businesses that care about appearing legitimate; the rest of social media is, however, a different kettle of fish.  To give you some insight into the time-cost/benefit aspect of promoting on social media check out these observations I’ve made over the past few months monitoring the posts by some of my 850+ connections on LinkedIn:

  • Seldom do the posts of non-famous names (i.e. if you’re not Bill Gates, Fortune Magazine, or an attractive 25-year-old blond doing videos) get more than a few views and even fewer “likes.” And by “few” I mean two or three.
  • These same posters just keep doing it over and over again for the same meagre response. Surely their time could be better spent on a more productive marketing strategy?
  • Most people on social media seem to be there to sell, not buy.

Now, admittedly, this not a controlled, scientifically-based survey, just my observations. And also, there may be some types of businesses for which social media posting could be worth the time and effort, but as far as I can see, not many.

So, don’t gamble with time and effort the way “social media experts” are trying to get you to do. Pause and give social media marketing careful cost/benefit consideration.

It may not be worth investing hours of time and effort in promoting your brand on social media; with the exception of a good website, a well-done blog, and an email list, more traditional branding and marketing options may still be more productive for your shop.