Social Media Ads Underperform

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I used to be a “Social Media Expert”, though I never made that claim. Or at least I had the bonafides of what one would expect. I wrote the Social Media Sonar blog which won the 2009 BlogOff II competition. The company I partnered with managed social media marketing for clients. And I had social media in my web URL (just kidding I think).

Towards the end of 2010 I came to the conclusion that while our small to mid size clients were tweeting away and gaining friends, likes and follows, they were not doing so well gaining leads and sales. Social Media wasn’t enough by itself. I spent a couple of months researching, reading and scribbling on paper, the end result being that I believe that social media can be part of an overall marketing plan, but by itself it’s just a lot of hot air.

There still seemed to be hope, though, of utilizing the ad networks of the social networks to reach some highly segmented audiences. After all in an advertising campaign your list is probably the most important element. Once again social media failed to live up to the hype.

In 2011 the numbers paint a clear picture when comparing the king of social networks, Facebook, and the king of search Google.

% of Online Ads in 2011

  • Google Online Ads: 9%
  • Facebook Online Ads: 17.1%

Sales Revenue Generated By Online Ads

  • Google: 36.4 Billion
  • Facebook: 3.7 billion

Facebook served almost twice the number of online ads as Google, yet barely generated 10% of the sales revenue of Google. Wuh Oh Shaggy! What most people who look to social media to drive sales miss is “Intent”. People on social networks are intent on keeping up with their family, friends and connections, sharing information with them, and interacting. Buying something is nowhere on their radar.

People who search Google are “Intent” upon finding content whether it be informational, educational, entertaining or sales related. They are looking to solve a question or problem and willing to purchase the right solution. A majority have a “Purchase Intent”.

In a previous post I discussed how social media was irrelevant to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. In this post I’m showing that advertising on social media networks isn’t working so well. So what’s left for social media? Does it have a place in the marketing world? Of course it does. There are just too many people using social media to ignore it.

One of the conclusions I came to in late 2010 was that social media was a good fit to help syndicate content within a larger content marketing strategy. Here are some ways we use social media to syndicate content:

  • LinkedIn: Status updates and LinkedIn group posts.
  • Twitter: Tweets.
  • Facebook: Wall posts, photo albums and video albums.
  • YouTube: Videos.
  • Google + (slowly becoming one of my favorites): Tie in Authorship of Google + profile to our blog. (*Google’s cancellation of Authorship has dented my enthusiasm).

As a final note if I had to narrow down what I would recommend for your online marketing efforts it would be the following:

  • Review your website to see if you can improve it o help you drive more sales.
  • Start a Content Marketing program that utilizes social media to share content.
  • Put a lead capture and nurturing system in place.
  • Use Conversion Optimization to make your online presence more efficient.

And most importantly continue to engage on social networks because the one thing we do know is that things continuously change.  More consumers will continue to utilize social media and the companies will continue to add new functionality.  At some point something good is bound to develop.

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