Don't Put All Your Marketing Eggs in the Social Media Basket

As a fractional CMO, many of my clients and prospective clients want to talk about social media first and foremost. They’ll ask questions like:

  • What time should I post?

  • How often should I post? 

  • Should we have video?

  • What kinds of offers should we post to X?

While these are helpful optimizations that can have an impact, you won’t revolutionize your business by focusing your energy here. 

Person using social media app (via Pexels)

Social media companies are doing a great job of creating FOMO (fear of missing out), and many entrepreneurs and business owners feel like the majority of their marketing efforts should be played out on these platforms. 

If it were up to Facebook (pick any platform), they would have you believe that if you’re not doing a lot of social media marketing (also called social selling), it feels like you’re missing out on huge opportunities to gain customers. The reality is, social media won't solve all of your marketing challenges. 

That’s not to say it isn’t an important marketing channel -- but it’s just one part of the overall marketing mix.  Social media ads and “buy now” posts aren’t your only customer acquisition play, and more importantly, they’re only effective in some industries. In the best of cases, social media reach will only represent about 50% of your word of mouth referrals

Is social media for the birds?

I’ve seen the phrase “social media is for the birds” in countless expert articles and marketing books. 

If you say something is “for the birds,” it generally means it’s worthless or unimportant. Let's dig a little deeper into this analogy.

Two birds sitting on birdfeeder (via Pexels)

Birds love birdseed. But they also eat worms, insects, and even sometimes OTHER BIRDS! 

That’s because most birds are opportunists, scavengers and seekers of the crumbs left behind by others. No matter how much birdseed (social media content) you put out for your hungry chicks (audience), they’re still going to look for other sources of food (marketing content) elsewhere -- so you might as well show up there, too.

Should your marketing show up on social media? Absolutely. Should you rely 100%, 80%, or even 50% on social media? No way. Make sure you have a well-rounded marketing strategy that fully considers all of the channels your customers are looking for information. 

Before you start asking detailed questions about your social media strategy, there are some more important questions that need to be answered first: 

  • Who is your customer?

  • How do they learn about your type of product or service?

  • What questions do your customers have at each stage of the buyer’s journey? 

  • Do you have a good product-market fit? 

  • What is your value proposition? 

  • What job does your product fulfill for your customer? 

  • How are you positioning your product in the marketplace?  

Tree-lined road with quote on the left side: “Your customers don’t only exist on social media platforms.” (Go 2 Market Coach)

These are the questions that will inform your entire marketing plan. Social media should be part of that plan, but be careful about the investments you are making. These platforms will continue to evolve, so if you have all your eggs in the social media basket, you risk losing a huge portion of your marketing momentum when the next algorithm change inevitably hits.

Meet your customers where they are

These days, customers are well trained in the art of search and are happy to do plenty of research before purchasing. The key is meeting your customers where they are and putting yourself in their shoes. You’ll want to take that “research” journey with them and anticipate questions they’ll have about your product or service. In the end, you should aim to create a human experience with your brand that draws someone in, whether they see you on social media or somewhere else.

Here are a few important questions to consider as you think about your customer’s journey:

Your Customer’s Journey (Go 2 Market Coach)

I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t paid social media ads an easy fix for getting more traffic? You can do it from anywhere. Just pick up your phone and start tweeting away hashtags and running targeted Facebook ads. 

Surely you will lure in a few fish (to feed the birds). 

Person using chat app on smartphone (via Pexels)

But social media doesn’t really work that way. Social media is about having conversations and building community. It’s about having conversations and building the community with brand advocates and great product storytelling. 

You are crafting a brand experience!

To build a sustainable social media presence you need to participate in discussions, curate your content feed and invite discussions with strangers. As tempting as “growth hacks” and promises of exponential customer acquisition schemes may sound, that’s not what will bring you long-term success.

Finding a healthy marketing mix for your business

In my experience, businesses are built one brick at a time. One new innovative idea after several failed attempts. 

The path looks something like this, if you are lucky: 

The Failure to Success Flow Chart (Go 2 Market Coach)

This cycle of failures and refinements is also true of your marketing strategy. If you’re a media company or excel at producing exciting content, then you have a chance for some great results on social media. But most companies struggle to create engaging content and attract the right audiences to their site. Facebook has clamped down on promoting business content that is not exciting or relevant to what most people want to see on Facebook (hint: familiar faces and stories!). 

That’s why you need a healthy mix of marketing channels to see real results. In my work at Go 2 Market Coach, I help clients dial in the right traffic drivers and help them have a strategy to grow qualified traffic in a broad sense.

Chart of imbalanced marketing channels (Go 2 Market Coach)
Chart of a healthy marketing channel mix (Go 2 Market Coach)

Remember, your customers don’t only exist on social media platforms. They are living, breathing humans who, according to a common marketing “rule,” will likely have at least seven interactions with your brand before purchasing. It’s important to have a comprehensive, integrated marketing approach and consider their entire world.

The rest is for the birds. 

Looking for a free opinion? 

Want a 15-minute website and social media audit? Through a custom video screen capture, I will go to your site, tell you my first impressions, and make 1 to 2 general recommendations. I offer this for free as a way of getting to know me and learning about how I work. It will easily be worth five times what you paid for it. Contact me to get started.