Social is not your sales-silver bullet

missedtargetMany people, be they writers or retail store owners, have a misconception about social media. This misconception centers around a belief that social media outlets, any of them, are their best and brightest advertising method. They spend hours tweeting, posting, circling, pinning, and sit back and wait for the sales to pour in. When this doesn’t happen, many throw up their hands and consider it all a waste and move on.

Today I want to focus on what social media is and is not so that you can best approach it without the disappointment. Basically, social media is for people to talk to each other, like a virtual watercooler. It is a meeting place for people, not businesses. As a handy side note, social media companies gather data and use it to sell ads. Nothing in social media is meant for businesses to use the free service directly for advertisement.

Obviously it didn’t take long for companies to work the system and utilize the free aspects of all social platforms in lieu or in addition to buying ads. There have been some spectacular stories of success where a company turns its business around with a cool social push. Those stories are the exception, however, and too many companies think that they will see similar results by engaging in some social outlets.

Your company, brand, or persona is not likely to be the one-in-a-million breakthrough story on any social media outlet. You can, however, realize the benefits of these forums as long as you understand what those benefits are. In general, all social outlets should be used to build brand awareness, listen to the needs and wants of the communities, and keep yourself in the minds of the public.

This passive type of advertising doesn’t create instantaneous sales, but it creates loyalty. It also gives your business a personality and lets you show a different, less “official” side to yourself. Since more people understand the value of doing business with real, local businesses, this is a great effect of all of that work.

Remember, statistically, people are more likely to do business with companies they interact with, so keep using social media for your company – just have reasonable expectations!