Social media marketing (SMM) used to be considered as a supplementary strategy for driving sales and customer engagement for big brands. As early as a couple of years ago, platforms like Facebook and Twitter were mostly used simply because they were free and easy to implement. It’s a whole new ballgame though; these days, the SMM arena has become very competitive—and profitable.
The beauty of Facebook marketing is that it’s smart, efficient, dynamic and mostly intuitive.
One minute you are just scrolling through your news feed and the next, you just find yourself clicking one what seems to be an interesting video or image. Facebook’s user algorithms can be uncanny in terms of predicting interests and demographics—which is hardly surprising given that the entire premise of Facebook rests on the enjoyment of self-disclosure.
The main problem with such an organic form of consumer engagement is that it can be pretty challenging to effectively measure the return of investment (ROI) on Facebook. Somehow, traditional models of attributing responses or revenue doesn’t seem to apply here, despite Facebook’s efforts to report different metrics such as likes, shares, comments, etc. There has been a lot of debate and outrage regarding allegations of fake profile likes and clicks farm tactics through Facebook’s own advertising program that a good number of social media marketers have basically given up trying to measure Facebook advertising success, choosing instead to focus on its potential for customer service and image branding rather than sales.
The bottom line is that there are several good reasons why you can’t really measure ROI for Facebook, or for that matter, social media in general:
1. First of all, social media efforts are primarily about establishing an interactive media presence. It’s like a big social gathering where you get the chance to circulate and mingle with potential clients. At a party, you can discreetly hand out business cards and when given a lead, talk about what you can offer but it’s considered crass to start pulling out your inventory at the dinner table. Sure, some small businesses seek to sell products and services right from their Facebook pages, but this marketing model only works for some. The main point of a Facebook presence is typically to build up your company’s reputation and improve brand recall.
2. Despite Facebook metrics such as page insights, reach, likes, comments and shares you can’t exactly calculate the success of your social media engagement using a precise formula, any more than you can precisely measure human behaviour and assign numerical values on perception. Just because a post garnered a lot of likes does not necessarily translate to increased sales. And yet, even without economic benefits, a business neglects Facebook marketing at its own peril. While an active Facebook campaign may not give you an edge over the competition, the absence of one can significantly set you behind.
3. There’s no saying when you will achieve a real connection between you and the target audience. Facebook can be a powerful tool for targeting specific demographics but it offers a lot of options for customizing the user experience. That means that even if you spend money on Facebook advertising, the users still decide whether they will allow themselves to be exposed to your content or not. They can like your page but keep you from showing up on their news feed, just like they can visit your page daily without ever liking or subscribing to your posts. Facebook is also pretty notorious for suspending or even terminating business accounts just because someone reports you for posting anything offensive, a characteristic that is highly subjective in this context since Facebook’s criteria for removable content includes everything from spam to simply ‘I don’t like this photo of me’.
So given these limitations, is it reasonable to conclude that Facebook advertising has no value? On the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth.
You see, even if Facebook never generates a single sale for your business (an unlikely scenario that we’ll just entertain for the sake of this argument), it’s an invaluable medium for generating and broadening interest about your company, building an interactive dialogue, and reinforcing your brand. However, there are a few Facebook marketing practices you should know. If nothing else, Facebook can give you a sense of your target market and gives you a point of entry into their community.
Do you want to learn more about how you can make a profit using Facebook, increase leads, and direct traffic to your website? Then download your copy of our free ebook: How to Turn Facebook Fans into Paying Customers by clicking the link below.