This is a LONG post – so grab a coffee and settle in for the ride…
One of our radio Stations Sales Reps had a conversation with a client (who was new to radio) and the conversation went along these lines:
While she did get a response to her campaign, (enough clients booked to pay for the weeks’ worth of advertising) and she could understand it “probably” raised the awareness of local business, she didn’t see enough value in her investment as she ‘receives’ such a good response from her Facebook page, for a huge fraction less than radio advertising.
As someone in sales – you may have heard this many, many times in the past – how and what do you say to a client in this circumstance?
First, you need to acknowledge that while they think it is free – it isn’t really – and the reach of a Facebook post – isn’t going to get the same results unless they spend some serious money – so let’s break this down for them…
There are 5 things for them to consider:
1. Social Media may be FREE – But Social Media Marketing Isn’t!
Creating your brand profile or presence on a social media site costs nothing, but you can’t just leave it at that. Think Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc.
If you want results from your social media marketing strategy, you need ideas, campaigns, and management – that will eventually work and give you some results.
a. It takes TIME to build a following. Eventually it will deliver some results for you – but have you considered how many unpaid hours you need to spend delivering content, asking questions, and maintaining contacts to keep driving traffic to your home page.
b. There are social media specialist shops, agencies, enthusiasts, and wannabes that offer services that start at rock bottom prices, but their costs soon escalate.
Remember for social media marketing to work – ideally – it needs to go on, day after day, month after month, quarter after quarter, 24 hours a day… unlike conventional campaigns that may have a start-stop time frame to maintain some sort of result – and most importantly those results will drop off over time if your message is not compelling enough or fast enough.
There is a cost of going ‘social’, both a “HARD COST” and a “CREATIVE COST” I will discuss both as we go through.
While profile creation is free on most social networking sites, there are certainly associated costs that you might not be obvious to you.
Costs can include:
a. The HARD COST of your time (more on this later).
b. The cost of branded or pre-designed templates to use on these social media sites, and in some cases the effort to code these templates to integrate into each different site.
b. The cost of premium ‘membership’ to the sites to get better functionality, control, and reporting analytics.
c. The cost of developing of social media optimised assets (such as videos, podcasts, and other content) this is the CREATIVE COST.
d. Plus, the creation of the content itself, as very quickly brand owners realise their business cards, brochures or commercials cannot be simply turned around and repurposed for social media.
Another reason why people feel social media marketing should be a low cost (if not no cost) activity is that most usually start off by friends or family (or someone at work who already does it) who over the course of a short period, get the brand to ‘go social’.
This usually consists of creating a profile on a few social networks, then putting up a few videos or posts, inviting a bunch of their friends to join/follow/view, and voila!
Results! – Sort of!
In a short amount of time, the brand has gone social… and even may have a few hundred fans/’likes’ and a bunch of tweets/updates/links up there in the social networking space – from people who will disappear as soon as the contract is up – or those regular posts stop coming.
Because, after those people leave, social media management is usually handed over to one of the junior members of the marketing team or people start to do it themselves.
Let’s now work out what is the ‘HARD COST’ of this is for a small business that is doing it, yourself – to work this cost out for one day, you need to multiply your hour hourly rate that you would charge a paying client – by 5 hours a day = HOURLY RATE x 5 HOURS = $$$. Then multiply that cost by 7 times for a weekly HARD COST x 7 = $$$$$
That’s just the basic cost to your business just to stay connected, update your socials, and keep the community engaged – and this is just a conservative costing – it should be 6-9 hours a day at least, at a minimum.
Remember that you will need to create new messages every single day, often instantly as you react to what is happening in your feed, while also trying to compete with your competitors and consumer responses to earlier messages.
The other reason for this cost is your response time – What do you do when something goes wrong? A negative post, comment, or experience from a customer – what do you do?
The impact of a tweet or a message gone wrong can be far more damning (and far quicker) than the angst against the claims made in a radio commercial.
It takes mature marketing and communications minds to make social media work the hardest for the brand, and these minds certainly do not come at low cost…
2. The ‘CREATIVE COST’ To A Client Using social media.
The numbers of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ is very fluid online. Unless you work on it, constantly, and remember… those numbers do not directly correlate to customers who pay cash for your product or service.
Monetising your social media marketing return can be very hard because your content has its own unique shelf life on each platform, no platform is designed to benefit an account that lies idle.
For example: If you use Facebook, you’ll notice that some people are always popping up in your feed. This is how you can spot someone who posts content frequently.
The more often you see their posts in a general news feed, the more they are posting. Within the “Facebook universe,” these folks have top-notch search-engine optimization (or in this case, feed-optimization).
As I already said – your ‘HARD COST’ is one thing – but then there is the ‘CREATIVE COST’… That’s the time spent replying to comments, protecting your brand, coming up with creative posts, taking photos and creating audio… the mental drain from all of this and of course never being able to turn off that evil social media, always needing to be contactable day or night or else your “rating” drops (that Facebook creates) for not getting back to people in a short time…
Remember, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!” You will need to work on it – constantly!
Even with the right social media accounts, and the proper number of posts per week, per account, your social media plan will not be bulletproof.
Let us imagine that you have your brand voice down pat and know the kind of language/images/video clips that work best for your audience to attract new followers and keep old ones.
Striking an appropriate balance between reader content and promotional content is yet another obstacle that trips up most business owners.
For example: In print media, this issue is thought of in terms of editorial versus ad content. If you have a magazine that is nothing but advertisements, then readers have no incentive to read your magazine. A balance must be struck between delivering your sales message and providing your audience something engaging and with no strings attached. I like the magazine analogy, but you can choose your own cliché here (“you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” et al.).
To work out the ‘CREATIVE COST’ take your ‘HARD COST’ and triple it – this will give you an idea of how much time and money and effort to accomplish your goals and maybe getting customers in the door.
So, if social media is free, why do so many businesses hire marketers to handle their profiles? Well, the reality now is that…
3. Like All Media – Marketing and Advertising Is an Investment.
While you may never have to pay just to access the features of Facebook or Twitter, the reality is that it now takes a certain level of investment to see success using those platforms.
Without paying for promotion, your brand’s organic reach on Facebook is likely to remain stagnant; this means that the links, images, and updates you share will reach a fairly small number of people – perhaps as little as 2% of your total number of Facebook fans, and that is if they are real people and not a ‘bot’’ or a ‘fake account’ or the old accounts from when your social media was first set up by that friend, or co-worker, and those people may very well have blocked or ignored you since that initial start.
If people aren’t seeing your content, then they aren’t interacting with it, clicking it, sharing it.
If you’re not maximizing your potential audience, then you aren’t getting the most out of your marketing efforts.
Certainly, you can pay a professional to do it for you – but expect to be charged major dollars to do so. Or you could undertake paid social marketing on your own!
But it’s important to realize that it can be complicated (even for the experts) and is a process that will certainly require trial and error and a steep learning curve – which likely means a few lost dollars along the way as you learn what works and what doesn’t for your brand (and try to keep up with your competitors, who are investing more and bringing on outside help).
You can save a lot of time and trouble by contracting with a professional in the beginning, one who is able to listen to your needs and work with your unique budget and strategy.
4. Social Media Marketing Pro’s Have Access to Sophisticated Tools.
Part of what makes paid social advertising so daunting is how complicated it can seem from the outside. It’s perfectly easy to click “promote this post” and let Facebook do the rest but engage with the Ads platform any further and you’re certain to wind up in a world dominated by ad spend, micro-targeting, and analytics that may be difficult to work your way through and understand what they are talking about – and how many hours have you invested now in this ‘free’ or ‘cheap’ marketing?
In other words, successful social marketing isn’t about “setting and forgetting” a link or a photo; instead, it is an active and ongoing process that can require consistent attention and specialized tools.
5. My ‘20-20-20 Rule’ Where the Message Is the Key.
The way I work out the returns on any type of ‘basic advertising’ and marketing is by using the old 20, twenty rule, and then twisting it a bit.
You may get 20 percent response to your initial message (that is 20 percent of the population will pay attention to it) – and 20 percent of that 20 percent will perhaps look at your product or service (be it on a website or if you are lucky, come into your store and look at it) – and then 20 percent of that 20 percent will buy it, IF it is what they want.
Why are those numbers so low?
This is based on a combination of data from direct mailout responses, tv commercials, radio campaigns, posters, social media posts, and website data for over 2 years – all running the same, or similar messages and carefully tracking the responses, and sales of each.
Now you will note that I said any type of ‘basic advertising’ – that’s something with no direct ‘Call to Action’ message. Not branding – just basic advertising… With the message that ‘this is our product, buy it from us here at…’
Change that data to a true ‘Call to Action’ message that is tailored to the medium it is put out in, and when you track those results, the response rate goes to 80-60-20.
That’s 80 percent of the population knowing about your message, 60 percent of that 80 percent taking an interest and 20 percent of that 60 percent buying the final product. Much bigger numbers!
What delivers such great results?
6. Or You Could Use Radio!
That’s right – and YES I am biased – but radio does work.
You are not only reaching an audience who wants to know about your product or service (maybe not now, but they will remember your name, your product, and services – if you have enough frequency of ads).
But you are also reaching a fringe audience who will also tell your prospective customer about the product or service that ‘I heard an ad on the radio for that’ when prompted or see a need for it.
You also reach people when they are doing their daily activities, and you can become a part of that activity.
For example, if you run the same message, at the same time every day – then doing that activity gets associated with your message – and if the ‘Call to Action’ message is good enough to interest them – then they will act on it.
The danger of a great radio commercial is that you might not be prepared for the results. For example: I ran a campaign of 10 ads on radio from 9am to 4pm on a Wednesday – to advertise a stage show – after the first ad ran we sold a couple of tickets – then after the 5th ad ran – we had sold half the tickets, by 4pm we were sold out. Why Wednesday – that’s the day that people start to plan what they are doing on the weekend.
How did we sell out? The message was on-brand, had a great ‘Call to Action’ message, and it was what people wanted at the time. If I ran that same ad right now, I might have to do it over 2 to 3 days.
We knew when people made the decision (we had gathered that data) about what they were going to do – tailored our message around that decision and played it when they would most likely be ready to make that decision.
Did I advertise this stage show anywhere else? Only on the website where you could buy tickets or call the box office. By the way, the box office staff complained that they were swamped and that they had sold out by 3.30pm, could we pull the commercials? Our website hits were through the roof, being 3 times what we would expect in a month, on one day!
That’s the power of radio – to do it on social media – I would have had to pay 5 times the amount that I paid for a 1-day radio campaign and only get a 20-20-20 result from a social campaign – if I was lucky.
Radio can take the amount of money your would spend on your HARD COST and CREATIVE COST and do wonders with it – given the right message.
Our radio sales teams can recommend a package, playing commercials at time that will attract listeners to your business, drive up your website hits and make the registers ring – if you have the right message.
Like all media – radio advertising is an investment, running a commercial for a week, then dumping it or changing it will not deliver the results you may want – you need to keep the same message, and make it a message that will spur people into action and drive them to do something.
7. In Closing: Combining your message for the win!
Yes, Social Media Marketing can work – but remember at what cost to yourself and your business, are you prepared to do that day in, day out wear that cost?
Or… you could do the bare minimum social media contact before lunch, and then, invest that money that you have saved a medium that gives return, radio – By combining the results – you get better returns and that’s a win for any business.
Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch!
Work out the cost before you commit to your social media marketing.