Does social media work?

Posted by Paul on June 24, 2011

More specifically, "will spending time and money on social media be a good investment for our business?"

When the Internet began, website content was generally written by companies and uploaded once to their website, if they were forward thinking enough to have one, and then updated very rarely in most cases. The thought of customers being able to make changes to their website would have been quite frightening and definitely not good for business!

Eventually a new trend began to emerge with websites such as YouTube where it was the users themselves who uploaded and provided the content, and commented on each others content. This new trend began to be called "Web 2.0"  (implying the previous "brochure" style websites were "Web 1.0" and alluding to the versioning convention of most software).

Social Media is the collective name given to these Web 2.0 websites such as YouTube, facebook, twitter, MySpace, bebo, StumbleUpon... the list goes on but it's more than just facebook and twitter, just see the icons on the right!

Facebook is the biggest and most popular website in the world with 500 million users (mid 2011). Here's how a small investment of time and money can translate in to sales, profit and provide a good return on investment.

Setting up and using facebook for business is pretty straight forward, you can create a page for your business by clicking here. By following the instructions you'll have a page set up fairly quickly and by adding photos and text, potentially from your current website, you'll probably have something pretty decent in a few hours.

The first thing you'll want to do is suggest the page to your friends on facebook - at the top of the right column there's a link to do just this.

The aim is to get as many "likes" as possible. Why? Because once someone has "liked" your page, anything you post as a status will appear in their news feed, which most facebook users tend to check pretty regularly!

This works best if there are potential customers/clients on your facebook friends list. Even if you're really popular, the chances are you don't have over 1000 friends on facebook! So to reach more people it's really worth considering advertising on facebook.

The beauty of facebook adverts is that you can very specifically target the people you want to sell to. For example a company selling products such as radio controlled models could target males between 14 and 20 who have also indicated that they're interested in "radio controlled models". The chances that someone in this demographic might be interested in buying are pretty high!

The aim of the advert can simply be to get someone who's interested in your products to "like" your page. This is obviously totally optional for them so you can be pretty sure that these people are genuinely interested in what you sell.

From that point on, when you add a new product to your range and post a photo to your facebook page, all of these potential customers will see it, right where they're checking for information regularly - in their news feed.

Total Investment
A few hours to set up, an optional monthly budget for advertising and 10 minutes every so often to post a photo or special offer.

Total Return
Hundreds, maybe thousands of genuinely interested, potential customers seeing your latest products, offers and news daily.

Depending on your business, it's likely that just a few sales will have paid for the investment of time and money. To conclude, yes it's very likely that in most cases, social media does work!