You can buy 500 Facebook likes for $5 with a simple Google search and a few minutes of your own time (see: fiverr.com and dozens of similar sites). A Google search for “Facebook zombie profiles” will show you the kinds of accounts that will make up that collection of 500 likes … not the sort of people you want associated with your company.
Fraud runs rampant in social reviews, as well: A recent study by Gartner found that up to 15% of all social media reviews will be fake by 2014.
I believe the primary reason social media marketing has gotten such a bad name is that marketers get overly focused on the wrong things (measuring arbitrary numbers that are controlled by social networks and easily manipulated) instead of the right things (thinking about how social media can augment your business strategy, leading to increased traffic, sales or other concrete business outcomes).
Key takeaway: A channel is not a strategy. Your strategy will dictate the channels you use. In other words, don’t chase likes; chase leads.
Social media is such a versatile tool with so many different forms that it is easy for people to put the cart before the horse and get focused on all sorts of activities without understanding the outcome they hope to produce. A proper strategy involves understanding your target market, the specific problem that you solve for them, their buying process and your positioning relative to competitors or substitute products.
Most social media “strategies” that I see promise to do far too much and lack clarity as to the specific problem they are solving.
Here are several approaches that are valid goals to focus on for your social media efforts. The most important point is to understand that you can’t do everything, and that different approaches may be mutually exclusive.
1. Increase customer loyalty through better communication
Key question: which social media channels do your customers want to use to engage you and are you prepared to engage in a public dialogue and be responsive?
2. Increase sales close rate by nurturing your prospects through their buying process
Key question: do you have content that addresses key customer pain points as they move through their buying process?
3. Increase lead generation by meeting new prospects on social networks
Key question: which social networks are your prospects on and do you know what conversations they are having when early in their buying process?
4. Increase effectiveness of promotions and communications efforts by building a community on social networks (like an email community)
Key question: do you have valuable content that your community wants to engage with that has been successful elsewhere already (like an email list)?
5. Increase your search engine traffic by producing content that results in inbound links around keywords that matter to you
Key question: do you know what your highest value keywords are?
6. Get feedback on your service or product by monitoring conversations online around your product
Key question: are people actually talking about your service or product online?
7. Provide customer service support by being responsive to questions on social networks
Key question: do you have the staff and tools needed to monitor conversations online and respond rapidly?
8.Conduct market research to better understand your customers through following conversations online that your ideal customers are having
Key question: can you identify your ideal customers with confidence, and is their social media behavior relevant to how they behave as prospects?
One last point: all social media efforts are ultimately content strategies that will be most effective when your content is high-quality and relevant, and lends itself to conversation.