I know the title of this article may seem kind of silly; I mean, no one falls “in love” with Facebook Likes and Twitter followers, right?
WRONG. Many entrepreneurs, including myself, have fallen in love with Facebook Likes and Twitter followers, and if you’re not careful, it could happen to you too.
When running a business, becoming obsessed with Facebook Likes and Twitter followers can get you into a lot of trouble. Having a large social media presence is a goal of almost every online marketing strategy, however, it is important to realize that followers and fans on social media don’t always equate to more revenue for your business. Sometimes, having a large social media following just means that a lot of people know of your business. Many businesses fall for this trap because they don’t understand the role of social media; social media platforms can help your business earn more revenue, but you have to understand how.
When I first started my internet-based business, one of the first things I did was create a Facebook business page and invite all of my friends (all 900 of them) to Like it. I was almost certain that all 900 would indeed like my page and recommend it to their friends. Boy was I wrong! Only about 30 friends liked my new business page. From that moment on, I was obsessed with getting more Facebook Likes for my business. I assumed that the more Facebook likes I had, the more popular my business would become, and eventually, the more customers I would gain. Again, boy was I wrong! I did EVERYTHING possible to try to get more Facebook Likes. I redesigned my page at least five times to make sure it was captivating. I went on LinkedIn, joined groups, and messaged people to like my page. I liked other people’s pages just so they would like my page in return (which completely destroys the relevancy of your timeline). Then I thought, “why not try Facebook’s paid advertising? It even lets me target certain audiences…”” Boy, was that a mistake! I ended up spending over $200 for roughly 400 Facebook Likes (50 cents a Like). After the paid search debacle, I ended up with about 400 Facebook followers. At the time I was happy; I really thought Facebook Likes were the measurement of success for a business. Then I stumbled upon something, something that would change my perspective about social media forever. It was a simple article that educated me on a particular subject that I didn’t even know existed…Facebook’s algorithm.
At the time, I assumed that if I posted any content on my Facebook business page, all of my followers see the content. This couldn’t be further from the truth. At the time, only 10 percent of my followers organically saw any content I posted. That was about a year ago. Currently, the percentage is at about 2 percent and it’s lowering. I’m not kidding; there will come a time when NONE (0 percent) of a business’ followers on Facebook will organically see the content it posts, and this time is coming soon. Only promoted (paid) posts will reach all of your followers. It gets worse. I thought having more Facebook followers for my business page would increase the traffic to my business’ website; nope, wrong again. In fact, the only thing my business gained from having more followers on Facebook was the appearance of marginal popularity, if that. I was so naïve back then, but I now I know the truth; Facebook Likes and Twitter followers don’t equate to more customers (or website traffic).
Many businesses think that a Facebook Like or Twitter follower equals a potential customer, but this isn’t true. I’m sure you, for example, follow many businesses on social media and have no intention of buying their products or services. Sometimes people follow businesses just because their friends are followers, or their logo is cool, or some other vain, irrelevant reason. However, just because a social media follower doesn’t equate to a potential customer doesn’t mean it’s not important to have a social media presence. It may not lead to immediate profits, but cultivating a social media following is a very important part of growing a business. The role of social media is to make social connections. In other words, social media helps businesses build social relationships with online consumers. The goal of the relationship is to turn a regular online consumer into a buyer, and eventually a brand ambassador, but this process doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.
Brand ambassadors are consumers that wear a company’s brand on their sleeve. They want to tell the whole world how great a company is; they refer all their family, friends, and colleagues to that company’s products and services, but in order to transform a consumer into a brand ambassador, first, a consumer has to become familiar with said company, and that’s where social media comes into play. Using social media, businesses can educate consumers on who they are, the benefits of their products and services, what their goals are (besides making money), and how they can improve a consumer’s life. It’s hard to learn about a company through a 30 second commercial on TV or from a banner ad on the top of a website, but through social media, consumers can engage with a business to get a better understanding of their value proposition. Engaging with a business on social media means interacting with said business by posting messages on their business page, reading and sharing their content, participating in the online contests that they organize, retweeting their tweets, etc. Again, social media plays an important role in turning online consumers into buyers, but not in a conventional way, and as long as you understand this (as an entrepreneur), you won’t fall for the trap.
Please understand, I’m not telling you to quit your social media campaigns and go back to offline marketing tactics. I’m just warning you to not fall in love with Facebook Likes and Twitter followers; they are not the measurement of success for a business.
Mike, creator of EntrepreLoser