SEO (search engine optimization) and social media advertising are all the rage in the business world right now. It’s the stuff of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses, the latest “in” thing trending. But does it work and is it right for your business? Will hiring an SEO/Social media marketing company actually translate into sales for your business?
The pitch was very good – even though the price per month was many times my advertising budget. At the heart of the pitch: analytics. That is to say the value they offer customers is the ability to precisely track the cost per click and click through rate of each of a dozen variations on my ad they ran on Facebook. Reports sent every Monday allow clients to follow this progress.
This numbers-focus sounds really good. But does it work and for whom?
That entirely depends on your business goals. Are you pursuing SEO/social media advertising to build brand awareness? Generate sales? Engage on social media?
In my experience, this type of advertising works best for one thing: building brand awareness. That is, if done correctly. Correctly here means that the advertisement draws the eyes of people who are not at all interested in looking at your advertisement.
An effective advertisement has to:
- Contrast against the blue and white colors used by Facebook and other social media sites.
- It has to be big, bold, and understandable in a banner image 110 pixels wide and 80 pixels high.
- And of course, it has to be relevant to your brand.
If all three are not done effectively, you will not build brand awareness on Facebook — period!
So what if your goals are sales? Sales are what every business is after, right? After four months of SEO/social media advertising, none of the advertisements converted into a single sale.
Part of that was the advertisements themselves — which did not comply with the above rules learned only at the final days of my campaign. But a bigger reason for this has to do with why people are on social media to begin with. Facebook is not a shopping site. People do not go there to buy or research products. They go to Facebook and most social media sites to talk to people, play games, and share things they like or are interested in.
Shopping is for Google, Amazon.com, major retailer shopping sites, and review blogs. Contrary to the hype, there is a definite behavior divide here.
As I found out by simply asking questions of my Facebook friends and acquaintances, a click on a Facebook banner is rarely going to lead to a sale–if only because the click is rarely happening when the person is in a shopping mood. Even in an optimal situation where they like everything they see — in your banner and on the shopping site you bring them to — if a person is not in a shopping frame of mind, they will not buy.
The same holds to assertions that the name of the business game is in the number of likes to your Facebook pages. Facebook likes can lead to sales — with a catch.
In evaluating advertising options and social media technologies, the question is not whether or not it works for Fortune 500 company X, but whether it will work for your business and offer you a great value for the money. Because it’s not about someone else’s business. It’s all about you and your business. My SEO/social media campaign did not work for me; it might work for you.
So what is your experience? Please post your comments here.