How Good Is Your Social Media Marketing?

Did you catch the startling headline recently about Facebook? The social media giant reported an increase of 52% in its fourth-quarter revenue. To put that in context, Facebook billed over $1 billion in advertising revenue in just three months. I wasn’t surprised.

What Facebook has done, and what similar sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter are aspiring to do, is to build a huge dedicated network of users and then embed advertising within the experience in a way that does not chase those users away. Years ago I heard Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, speak at a technology conference, and she explained the company’s strategy in terms of this bold claim: Facebook owns “the most valuable real estate online — the newsfeed.” Looks like she was right.

Why this matters is that, unlike in the early days of social media when your content was displayed to your connections and your community based solely on their actions (a like or a follow, for example), today it’s more and more about who is paying what.

We recognized this last year, when it became clear that the only way to ensure that the posts we were putting on Facebook showed up was to buy Facebook promotions. That was disheartening but also motivating.

Social media marketing is now so sophisticated and so targeted that it requires only a small investment of money to yield extremely good results. Unlike offline advertising, which is costly and expensive to produce, the investment in social media is mostly in time and thinking. You must know your audience and have a clear strategy and measurable goals in mind. With those few things, you can do a lot with very little.

One blog post I came across recently was titled “You have $100 to Spend on Social Media Marketing. Here’s One Way to Spend It.” It not only outlines with great clarity exactly where to post (mostly Facebook and Twitter, but also LinkedIn), but it also provides a guide to low-cost tools that will help you create and post content as well as monitor your results.

As you dive back into your spring season, I hope you’ll invest more time and energy in social media marketing. By now there’s no doubt this is the future, and the better you are at spending money to promote your content, the more you’ll be able to connect with your audience.

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