Has Social Media Helped Your Business?

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Two separate reports on social media marketing were released this week with – on the surface, at least – what seem like diametrically opposite results.

According to the 2011 Industry Report from Social Media Examiner, 90 percent of more than 3,000 Web marketers say that social media is an important facet of their business today. Brand exposure was identified as the greatest benefit, with 88 percent of respondents citing it as a positive result of their social media campaigns.

Increased website traffic is another benefit (remember this when you get to the next paragraph), with 72 percent of the marketers claiming they gained traffic and subscribers through their social media efforts. Another advantage named by a high percentage of marketers was improved search rankings, gaining a 62-percent share of the response.

Then we have the research released by ForeSee Results, which states that, on average, less than 1 percent of website visits come directly from a social media URL. ForeSee surveyed 300,000 consumers on more than 180 websites across multiple industries to come up with that number, which sounds like an awfully poor return on a company’s investment of both time and resources.

Or is it? The ForeSee report also pointed out that while only 1 percent of visitors are coming to websites directly from social URLs, an average of 18 percent of visitors report being influenced in some way by a social media campaign, indirectly sending them to that site. That company’s ROI just got a whole lot better.

That's one of the challenges facing social media marketers right now, and why handfuls of companies are searching for the best solutions to accurately assess a business’ social media ROI.

It is also why marketers have to look deeper at the analytics they do have when dealing with social media than they would for most of their other campaigns – or take their focus off some of the analytics they rely on most.

Even though we have been hearing about it and using it for several years now, social media is still very much an enigma. But most will agree, like 90 percent of those responding to the Examiner report mentioned above, that it is in fact an effective tool for their business.

How about your business? Has social media helped, or do you feel like you are spinning your wheels on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the rest? Please let us know in the comments section below, or cast your votes on our Facebook page.



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JohnL 04-08-2011 2:29 PM

We just started on Facebook (actually one week ago)...We created a Fan Page and began using FB Ads.  All I can say is; "I wish we would have done this sooner"! We are seeing a tremendous amount of traffic coming to http://www.JohnnyLew.com  This just may eat into Google!

RebeccaA 04-08-2011 2:33 PM

We're a small business-to-business outfit. We haven't seen any measurable ROI from social media that would justify taking someone in the firm away from other duties, or adding anyone to staff to specialize in that area.

Peter Prestipino 04-08-2011 2:35 PM

Check out the WM community response and feedback on Facebook - www.facebook.com/WebsiteMagazine

Linc Wonham 04-08-2011 2:40 PM

Thanks for the comments, John and Rebecca. Interesting that you each have different experiences to report -- which seems to be the nature of the beast right now.

I expect an increase in analytics solutions to give us more measurable results in the coming months, but thanks both for the input.

Anyone else?

JohnL 04-08-2011 2:56 PM

Linc, I think the differene in results from Rebecca and myself, is I am a B2C business and she is  a B2B.  Plus my small business is perfect for FB and Social Meida.  We are in the Sports Merchandise Business, so fans of Sports teams are our customers.  FB has given us pinpoint demographics of who is visiting and using Google Analytics I can tell which Ads are driving the best results!  This is a tremendous vehicle for us.

Linc Wonham 04-08-2011 3:00 PM

Glad to hear it -- thanks again, John!

KevinC 04-08-2011 3:06 PM

One thing that IS consistent is that those who benefit from peddling social media services never like hearing bad news about the Reality of social media as a business tool. There has been so much Hype over social media effectiveness that the service providers are unwilling to ease off the Hype and fantasy of social media.

So as you see in this article, when a valid finding comes  along to contradict their Hype, they will then create a frenzy of rationale of what the finding “Really meant” as long as it leans in their direction of Pro Social Media.  

Not unlike politicians who continually lie to us for the sake of benefiting their own personal agendas, keeping their purpose alive.   Just take it like a man guys, social media is 95% hype for 95% of businesses, it does not deliver a respectable ROI to this day.  

VladimirT 04-08-2011 3:16 PM

I sell medical device for a niche market, many who are elderly.  I don't think they know what a face book is, hence is a waste of time for my business.  Medical professionals can recommend my device to these people but they are busy saving lives, not sitting in front of face book.  So, I don't find it very valuable.   No one has shown the billions of dollars they made with their tweets or face book accounts.  Also, face book has some weird rules about having a personal and business account.  I am always skeptical about an organization that cannot not be easily contacted.  Do you have the face book email address or phone number?

Linc Wonham 04-08-2011 3:24 PM

Interesting feedback, Kevin and Vladimir; that's what we're looking for.

This is an informal poll: Does it work for your business?

Nobody's pushing anything here, we just want to hear from our readers.


JohnL 04-08-2011 3:48 PM

As I said before if your not in the right market, I dont see how social media will do anything for you.  Especially B2B (Linkedin is a better choice).  If you want proof of the success, I have only been on Facebook for a week, but look in the upper hand corner of any page on my website http://www.johnnylew.com and you will see the number of "likes" those "likes" have created a URL on those FB walls for all of their friends to see and click - it works and is amazing!

LilianaC 04-08-2011 3:53 PM

We are in the business of Boat and Boat Engine, Marine Maintenance and repair, and I think Facebook has helped our business to stay in contact with our customers and suppliers, adding them little by little.  I think it is a good reminder that we are there ready to help them.    It has also helped us in the search engines and maybe few new customers.  I think it does not require a 24/7 job to get results, and it is good to have.  

KevinC 04-08-2011 3:58 PM

Show me the stats/analytics on conversions for "Likes".   You may have 1 million "likes" but zero times a million is still ZERO.   I have an e-commerce site www.cvtreasures.com, which has over 3500 products and a LIKE button for each product.  I get about 200-300 visitors a day via search engines.  In the past 2 years I have not had a single transaction from a Facebook LIKE.

JohnL 04-08-2011 5:30 PM

Not sure why KevinC is so combative? I use Google Analytics and I filter by refering domain of "facebook" I have a 1% conversion rate!  Not bad at all since Facebook is more like a banner ad than a Google Adword PPC.  The more likes we get, we are being shown on their friends wall's.  If you dont have the right market then it isnt going to work.  KevinC you must have a market that just doesnt fit with Social media.

JohnL 04-08-2011 5:35 PM

KevinC - I just looked at your site - why social media wouldnt work for you is beyond me.  Your almost a competitor of mine! So I am not going to away more free advice - kidding (kind of)!  Your site looks good! Why word of mouth (ok word of click for facebook) has not generated a single sale just doesnt make sense.  Good luck to you.

AnthonyD 04-09-2011 1:59 AM

Great discussion. I think it depends on your business and which industry you are in. Look at high street brand names, Coca cola, Victoria s Secret, Volkswagen and many other popular names, & "likes" range from tens of thousands to millions of "likes". Some forms of advertising work better than others. In a hotel a few weeks ago in Colorado, 200 local business owners were asked 2 questions, "Who looked up a telephone number in a phone book?" ten people raised their hands. "Who looked up a number on the internet" and the rest of the room raised their hands. Yellow pages, invented back in 1886 wasn't a success over night, but today is a global term and we have all used the YP to find something. I think it's too early to judge Facebook and other social media sites. Since January 19th 2011 we've had 1,478,500 +/- impressions on Facebook in our city for $150. We have had a couple of sales, but then we have had more and more people comment "Yeah, I saw your ad on Facebook" It's getting our brand out there and the more they see it and see our work trucks and see our guys out on the streets, the more we stay ahead of our competition.

Chris B 04-09-2011 1:34 PM

I have a page on Facebook for my company, J. Chris Brown Designs. I've tried everything I can think of to engage the 100 people who "like" my page, but they act like they just don't care. What else can I do?

JohnL 04-09-2011 3:05 PM

Chris B, dont give up yet!  Critical mass is a 1,000.  Once you get there you will have a core of people that do care.  Put yourself in there shoes and think if I were a fan of J Chris Brown Designs what would I want to receive or hear about. Post then according what you think they want or more importantly need!  Over at http://www.johnnylew.com we try not to come across as selling!  For example everyone of my new fans gets a shout out on the page!  I welcome them.   A couple of things are accomplished, I recognize them and they in turn have a post on their wall from me.  No selling pressue, but I am building up a base...The secret of Social Media is you are not going to be "liked" by everyone, but the core that does are your friends/customers for life.  Guaranteed!

Chris B 04-09-2011 9:19 PM


I've posted tips to help small businesses, shout outs to my new clients, etc. My page is www.facebook.com/home.php!/jchrisbrowndesigns. Let me know what you think I can do. I'll check back tomorrow or you can email me. My email address is on my FB fan page. Thanks!

JohnL 04-10-2011 8:49 PM

Chris B, I couldnt find your page!  

GregW 04-11-2011 6:20 AM

I agree JohnL, the critical mass is way over 1000 we are currently sitting at over 12,000 and it took forever to hit that number. our facebook page is at www.facebook.com/lehmanshardware.

feel free to take a look

this took over a year to build the internal acceptance of the channel and win the support.  Setting up the page is a piece of cake, selling it and understanding the channel is difficult.

The engagement on our page is really great. lifetime our Revenue is not where I would like it but the branding and engagement is awesome and it does help.

I also could not get at ChrisB's page.

Ina Stanley 04-11-2011 12:11 PM

The important thing to remember is that social media allows businesses to display and promote a lot more than just website links. That means that social media users can do a lot more than just visit a website to interact with a brand. That being said, while the ForeSee survey reports less than 1% of traffic coming from social networks, this article doesn't report any findings on the other possible ways users are interacting with a brand.

Perhaps users aren't coming directly to a website from social media portals, but they might be linking, sharing content, recommending products, signing up for mailing lists and downloading coupons specific to a brand. For a more accurate picture of how social media is helping a business, we'd need to take all of these possible interactions into account (plus others not mentioned but definitely in existence) to truly determine social media's ROI for a particular business.

And also, we'd need to take into account how businesses are actually using social media. There are right ways and wrong ways, and wrong ways will not likely produce much in terms of ROI. That's not the fault of social media as a web marketing method, though.

Finally, social media has affected our business in a HUGE way. To start, it's given us a whole new area of services to offer our clients (and as a result, more ways to earn money). It's given us exposure that otherwise wouldn't have been possible, even with paid advertising. It's sparked conversation and given us a place in the world-wide industry. It's helped us conduct research, get valuable feedback from our audience and even helps us to automate certain tasks on an almost daily basis. When I think of how social media has helped our business, I don't just think in terms of whether we've made sales as a result of our social media efforts. I think about the total picture and the total impact, and what I see is a priceless addition to our overall strategy regardless of traffic numbers or sales!

JohnL 04-11-2011 1:20 PM

Ina, AWESOME post, until you end it with "regardless of traffic numbers of sales"...If I do not get a return on my investment I am out of business.  If your conducting Business on Social Media sites, your using resources...if not your passively using like any other casual personal user.  So, it does come down to sales!  Bottom line money making activities.  Right now I am using FB Ads and it is a success...I have doubled my daily visitors to http://www.johnnylew.com and my sales have also doubled!  My fans have gone from zero (when I created my first business page) to over 320 since April 6th!  

I will agree with you that the sales do not have to be immediate to be considered a success,  They can be generated over time as "fans" get to know your brand, trust you and then refer!  It is that snowball that should take a year or so to really take off.

Good luck to all!

VictoriaG 05-23-2011 11:15 PM

I'm becoming increasing convinced that for small business, the primary benefit of social media is the creation of inbound links to the business website, which helps with SEO.  Expectations that it will directly result in business are misplaced.  The average small business owner can't afford time on things that don't have an immediate ROI.

Social media enthusiasts continue to insist that there is a ROI, even if it isn't readily apparent.  That is corporate thinking at best, delusional at worst.  Maybe I'm a Luddite, but I suspect someday we'll all be laughing at ourselves for buying into the myth that social media is a viable form of marketing for small business.

MartinJ 06-01-2011 3:14 PM

Interesting that you each have different experiences to report -- which seems to be the nature of the beast right now.


Launch of iPad apps in Sydney 07-21-2011 4:55 PM

There are right ways and wrong ways, and wrong ways will not likely produce much in terms of ROI. That's not the fault of social media as a web marketing method, though.

Rob Cummings 04-19-2012 4:25 AM

I feel that it is relatively difficult to measure success and performance in using social media as a platform, especially since most of the results are intangible, and could be things like better brand reputation and reliability etc.

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