Social media Gurus, fad, fashion or fast track to success?

I daily get emails from social media companies telling me they can improve my sales by increasing my activity on social media and utilizing their services is the route I should take. This plethora of sales emails reminds me of a similar host of emails that used to come in offering me SEO that could get my web site highly rated by Google. And before that were the web design companies that could redesign my web site to make it achieve more sales.

Only this week a web designer told me he’s having small business clients scrap their web sites to save money and just migrating the business presence to social media platforms. We all know why, for a small business this can be another cost saving, there’s nothing better than free!

Now, it happens that if you are in business for long enough you do see cycles of events and fashions happen, take vinyl records for example, why would they ever need to come back, but they have. And it seems to me that perhaps the boom of social media advisers is another business boom that is currently in full swing at present. But is it’s rise just cashing in on the ever complicating social media platforms? So what’s the real value of employing a guru?

The answer is simple, if you have a good budget and can find the quality suppliers there is no denying that a good social media campaign can gather a lot of awareness. But how many small businesses have that budget available? Very few I suspect to make any tangible difference to their returns.

My son works at a post production house in London called Rushes. A top notch professional film post production house. They recently achieved the ultimate goal that most companies would love to achieve, a viral video . By the time their video had been embeded to a few online news sites and the buzz got going they had exceeded 4 million hits on their video within a week.

The actual video took weeks of work to achieve because it was a show piece of what the company could do and they capitalized on their little rouse by posting a how it was done video about a week later . Now this is a perfect example of how social media can be used to gain publicity. And of course the more people that know of your existence the more chance you have of getting work.

But how many social media gurus would have the creative genius to come up with a plan like this and how many companies could afford to spend their staffs time in producing such a promotion? Very few I suspect. What Rushes did was like winning the lottery, but to do so they bought an awful lot of tickets in the form of time and effort.

For all the achievement of this video it would be useless if the company didn’t follow up with personal contact with likely clients who may have seen it. Which brings me to a point I make over and over again. Social media can be a great advert but unless you follow through with the personal contact after, it becomes a wasted effort.

A large part of the population of this world hate the idea of having to actually attempt to sell anything. You see it time after time at trade shows, the staff member who has been drafted in to man a stand sitting behind the desk provided for samples looking at their phones rather than make eye contact with the punters.

Social media will never replace the professional sales person or negotiator. The hype about social is very much just that. I actually heard one guru announcing that social media for business would replace traditional selling. I’m sorry but that’s delusional. It might replace some advertising but not the traditional sales professional. People by from people they trust, people buy people. The adverts just get the people talking to the potential clients.

So, coming back to the smaller business what should you be spending on your social media budget? I think the answer must be the same as gambling, no more than you can afford to loose! And if your budget is small don’t expect the social media guru to unlock a zillion new clients for you, it will all probably be in proportion to what you can afford to spend. You know your business better than anyone. You also probably know your weak points too. So perhaps that’s where you should be putting your marketing budget?

Whatever you decide is the way forward to promote your business keep your eyes open for the next big fad that will be coming along any minute! Because as sure as houses this isn’t the end of the line!


Brian Russell

Copyright April 2016