Is Social Media Marketing Useless for Small Businesses?

Well, yes and no.

Early last month, Facebook released a statement that it will slash organic posts from business owners on news feeds starting January. The company claims that based on a survey, users want more posts from friends instead of promotional content. Facebook will also introduce new volume and content controls for organic promotional posts.

You can still use paid ads, but it's a costly expense for small businesses. Predictably the number of ads displayed declined while the company's revenue increased.

Worse, your marketing efforts don't really work.

A study by Ogilvy reported that Facebook posts from large brands reached only two per cent of their fans. Another study by Forrester showed that on average, a measly 0.07 per cent of followers interact with those posts.

Meanwhile, the market research firm also found that only 0.03 per cent of Twitter followers interact with tweets from top brands. Whether you’re trying to hijack a controversial or non-controversial news stories to attract eyeballs, marketing on the network is playing with fire.

What Now?

The value of social media marketing has been up for debate. A quick search on Google will turn up plenty of articles about how it’s an overrated and overhyped move that delivers low return on investment.

You don't need to be a marketing genius to know that the social in social media stands for something. There are plenty of other networks to peddle your wares aside from Facebook and Twitter, but all the likes, shares, retweets don’t exactly generate profit.

Here are time-and-tested alternatives that you can do:

Email Marketing

Email marketing still works. It's a more sustainable, cost-efficient, and targeted way of engaging with prospects and leads. You have total control over the process. Think about it, would you rather have a newsletter that you can easily unsubscribe from or marketing appropriated posts and ads that always find its way to reach you?

Online Communities 

Forums and microsites are perfect places to start a community. You'll be able to engage with consumers and get feedback. Human beings organise socially and bond in communities.


Blogs are a great way to inject personality into a brand. You can let go of the corporate lingo and start conversations. More importantly, it can serve as a content marketing and engagement hub for your business.

You don't have to fire your social media manager... yet.

Your social media marketing efforts are not entirely useless. Social media can still be a channel to reach your customers but you have to be realistic. Here are important points to consider when using social media:

  • Lower your expectations - you can't force organic engagement and people have become more aware when they're being targeted.
  • Social media will always be social - you can use sadvertising (crank up the drama) and aww-vertising (use the adorable animal of the year) to attract eyeballs, but getting people to fork over their money is a different ball game.
  • Use it for what it's worth - real-time feedback, contests, and polls are good ways to ignite engagement without being disingenuous.

In short, social media marketing is better used as a component of a customer engagement process that provides value, rather than a tool for generating sales.

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