First, you hear that social media is the ticket to profitability…then, you hear that it isn’t. Which one are you supposed to believe? As we observe new and different ways that businesses utilize their social networks, the best answer to that is simply “Both”. Depending on what you’re looking for and how you to choose to utilize your social media accounts, either of these may be true. Just be sure to keep your goals clearly defined to yourself and your audience.
We can analyze it metaphorically, using the analogy of interpersonal relationships. If you are looking for instant gratification conversion (the web marketing equivalent of “hooking up”), then social media may not be as profitable for you in the long haul. That means you may see leads here & there, but no “long term relationships” developing from your social platforms.
You may post some interesting content, see your click-through rates increasing and believe that you are experiencing overnight success – but if you don’t invest in your audience and their needs and interests, that success can spiral away quickly. Just like hooking up with someone you meet socially, it may be fun for a while. But a viable, high quality relationship (or profitable customer) rarely develops from it, because it was just for fun. As is the case with the common hook-up, 1.) Both parties had selfish intentions, and 2.) Both parties failed to sustain their efforts.
Then, there is the interpersonal dynamic that everyone is looking for: the aforementioned long-term relationship. When you leverage your social media accounts for the purpose of developing real relationships with your audience, a measurable amount of those relationships are bound to become profitable sometime in the future.
Just like a real relationship, resign yourself to the fact that you will need to “date” your prospects in social media for a while. Remember, no long-standing customer relationship is built overnight. You will need to offer them things of value, such as product demos; then, sign them up for a free trial of your product or service (the equivalent of asking them to be exclusive). If you invest enough time and show them mutual admiration, they may eventually marry (buy from) you. But you’ll never know until you try to woo them first and learn about their interests and needs.
Like many business owners, you may not have time to invest in your social media audience. If that is the case, let a social media agency be your “secretary.” You know, the one who sends your prospect flowers, candy and jewelry on your behalf – but in this case, it’s mentions, replies and valuable offers. If a profitable relationship forms, you will find it is worth the investment.