Social Media – Still A Mystery to Most Businesses

I participated in a survey conducted by a LinkedIn group and once the results were emailed to me, I realized most businesses are flying by the seat of their pants in the dark.

What I’m trying to determine at this point is whether most of the people in the survey were: a) independently owned companies, or b) employees of larger companies. One thing that was clear from the survey of 500 b-to-b people, most are using some form of social media, but really don’t know why or what they’re doing. They had a better idea of how to use LinkedIn properly, connecting with people and joining groups, but not Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and others.

I think the problem stems from companies who try to sell their service or products, and just aren’t advertising in the right way. Most businesses or individuals today know they need to be on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but once they’ve created their accounts, don’t know what to do next. Just as in any other type of advertising, whether tv, radio, internet, or direct mail, it can be hit or miss, and the same rules apply. If a commercial on tv uses a celebrity to push the product, or some clever gimmick, or pulls at your heart strings, it’ll do much better than another without one. The same can be true to advertising through social media. I read a blog post recently by Julie Steelman about selling and she quoted Zig Zigler who said “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.”

The bottom line always comes down to sales, not just followers, so how do we get the sales up?

The best I can offer is my own discovery as an example. I spend time looking at the stats for my various websites and blogs as well as my cause, Frogs Are Green, on Google Analytics. It’s not just about how many hits you’re getting a day, but what content they’re looking at, how long they stay on those pages, do they continue onward or leave (bounce rate), are they interested in our products or not, what countries are they from, who has been kind enough to link to us, and more.

When I look at the analytics for Frogs Are Green, we have a very nice following, we’re up around 6,700 visitors a month and climbing, but we don’t sell as much via products or donations to support our efforts. We get responses from all over the world from kids and adults entering our contests, asking us questions, and we get interviewed often, but unless we find people or companies that would like support us, we cannot do all the things we’d like to. Our hope for 2011 is to branch out with a kids website that will have fun and educational videos, downloads of coloring books and other activities. We’re also building a separate website for our store, away from the parent informational site.

I think when you run an organization or business, you run into assorted difficulties. Based on what Alexa.com tells us, the largest group of visitors at Frogs Are Green fall into the demographic of women, aged 45-54, have had some college, and have some or no children. When I saw this, I thought, we’re not selling because we’re not reaching our target audience. You have to know if you website is reaching the right people or you cannot succeed and our audience has to be kids and parents. Our hope is that these 3 different websites, each with different goals, will help us reach the right demographics, which will turn into support and sales.

When it comes to using social media, it’s only going to work if you do it correctly. If you’re using google analytics on your websites, that gives you the data you need to know and understand who and where your visitors are from and what they’re looking for.

There’s one other thing that I think is quite important. Many companies put up websites, Facebook and Twitter pages but don’t have the time to actively use them or update them. If you don’t nurture these continuously you’re also losing potential customers, plus your content is losing ground because other more timely and relevant links are moving ahead of you. Most businesses are busy running the day-to-day operations and so perhaps it’s time to consider hiring someone to help with social media. All it takes is a bit collaboration and maybe 1-2 hours a day. Using a website like HootSuite, you can set up a bunch of tweets to go out during the day, so you can get back to work. If you link up your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, then each posting appears on all.

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