Does Social Media Marketing Really Work?

David G. Johnson Get Strategic, Small Business Marketing 1 Comment

Hoping for Business

Hoping for Business?

Getting fans and followers is awfully trendy right now. But if you’re like many small business people, you’re probably saying, “Yeah… but does it increase sales?”

Our clients and trainees have known for some time that it’s possible to grow your business with social media because, when approached strategically, it comes in line with one of our cardinal principles in modern-day marketing:

“He or she who engages, wins.”

Thankfully, the folks at Harvard Business Review agree with the results our real-world clients are getting. (I always like it when the academics are there to validate my numbers, don’t you?) In all seriousness, I have great respect for real scientific testing. It’s why we use it and train people to use it.

To arrive at their conclusion, the good folks at Harvard set up a Facebook fan page for a Houston, Texas café and bakery known as Dessert Gallery. The popular chain did not have a Facebook presence prior to the study. The propeller-heads at Harvard did a good job of making sure their data would be statistically valid and emailed the company’s database of approximately 13,000 customers.

Here are the Cliff’s notes of the results after 3 months of updating the Facebook fan page several times weekly. (H/T: Dr. Jeff Cornwall) Of all the customers of Dessert Gallery (DG), those who became fans on Facebook:

  • Made 36 percent more visits to DG’s stores each month.
  • Spent 45 percent more of their eating-out dollars at DG.
  • Spent 33 percent more at DG’s stores.
  • Had 14 percent higher emotional attachment to the DG brand.
  • Had 41 percent greater psychological loyalty toward DG.

Clearly, if you’re in a small business that has any kind of retail presence like Dessert Gallery, you’ve got to be jumping up and down for joy.

Every business is different, of course. And… as I regularly point out to clients and students, having a fan page or Twitter account and using it strategically are 2 completely separate issues!

The bottom line: it’s time to engage with social media. We’ve been saying it for over a year now. We’ve been seeing significant ROI for even longer.

What is the True Cost?

Those who tell you that Facebook and Twitter are low cost marketing media are both right and and wrong at the same time. ROI from these activities is measured less in hard cash outlay and more in soft costs like employee time, learning curve, opportunity cost, etc.

But the fact of the matter is that in this day and age, the options for where to spend your marketing budget are quickly dwindling. And simultaneously, businesses in many industries (whether you sell to other businesses or to consumers) are facing a stronger-than-ever need to have sustainable marketing strategies that

  • consistently produce new leads and/or customers,
  • encourage stronger sell-through to existing customers (where applicable), and
  • can be started with minimal investment of time and money.

Our focus, as a marketing consultancy that also offers lower-cost training to businesses who may not be able to afford (or be willing to invest in) our services, has been to shorten the learning curve and help businesses ramp up quickly. The goal once everything’s in place? 10 minutes per day with the right social media and the right strategy.

Get started here.

Or… join us for our webinar Tuesday, March 23rd at 1PM Eastern. We’ll be telling the story of a business owner who is experiencing dramatic results right now. We’ll also dissect what she’s doing and show you how to do the same! There are still a few slots left at this late hour, so RSVP right away!

About the Author

David G. Johnson

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David G. Johnson is Co-Founder and Growth Engineer at Grow The Dream, where he advises and trains business owners, entrepreneurs, and small business teams on revenue growth strategies. You can also find him co-hosting the Grow The Dream Show. »» Full Bio

Comments 1

  1. Great post!! I think an aspect of marketing that you bring up, that is often forgotten, is the importance of Sustainable Marketing. It’s easy enough to drop a direct mail piece, or advertise in a mag, or for that matter launch a blog or a Facebook fan page. The key is to identify and execute programs that are sustainable in terms of maintaining engaging relationships with your clients and prospects. The life of a client/prospect relationship requires constant engagement, as out of sight equals out of mind equals lost potential sales.

    Another aspect of maintaining relationships that result in sales, is that the customer is not stationary so maintaining an ongoing relationship may require you to move from media to media, e.g., switching from advertising in a magazine that a customer previously read to having a Facebook presence, where your customer is now spending their time since not renewing their magazine subscription.

    An approach which I think is winning is to look at your resources and identify the basket of engagement mechanisms that maximizes the number of ongoing relationships that you can sustain that fits within your resource constraints.

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