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In a last-ditch effort to drive sales, many companies are increasing their social marketing spend. But by treating this technology as a Hail Mary pass, the gap between social media strategies and business value only continues to widen.
The proof is in the numbers. According to a recent survey from online business community Manta, small businesses are beginning to question their decision to go social. While 50 percent of respondents said they budgeted more time for monitoring social sites, approximately 61 percent failed to see a return on investment.
The problem is success doesn't necessarily translate to 1,000 fans, followers or likes. And, unfortunately, not all companies have a clear idea of what they're trying to accomplish or how they should approach their goals.
"I have heard countless times, 'We got on Facebook because we know we need to be there.' Or 'because our competitors are doing it,'" noted John Foley, Jr., founder of Grow Socially, and CEO of parent company interlinkONE, Wilmington, Mass. He believes simply launching a Facebook page is comparable to having a website that is "brochure ware"—neither can be used as a standalone to boost marketing efforts.
"The key is to understanding online marketing is how to support the efforts, including: inbound marketing, content marketing, your dynamic and ever-changing website, blogging and social media," Foley explained. "A plan helps you with everything from determining the target audience, what content we need and when, what channels the audience uses and are in, and which platform we should use and when. Ask yourself questions and then research. Who are my potential customers? What do they look like? And then determine what platform they're on."
This approach worked well for Envelopes.com. After deciding to take the social media plunge in 2009, the Amityville, New York-based supplier considered where its customers lived and played online. All signs pointed to Facebook.