I love social media and I think it is a great tool for business, for boosting brand awareness, recognition, SEO and helping you promote and sell online but ... no it is not the miracle you may think.
Social media takes work:
Aside from needing a plan to promote, gain exposure and develop a presence, it takes time. In the first few months of growing online you need to spend a lot of time building and learning your audience. What do they respond well to? What are their likes, dislikes, pain points and what is the problem they need help solving?
What is important to your audience? What does your audience look like, what is their demographic, what types of things do they stand up for, care about and love?
Do you know their hobbies? The more you learn about your audience and what they are saying the better job you will have targeting your posts and content to what really matters to them. The better you tailor your posts, the more likely they will be shares, liked, commented on.
It takes time:
In the first few months of growing online, get social, talk to your audience rather than spending your time 'pushing' out content only. Join groups, like pages, find out what is going on in the community where your audience is (whether news, local events, issues, fundraisers or daily problems).
Don't expect a miracle to happen in the first month or two, great if it does, but don't pin your success on it.
Once you have built an understanding, measure your results, refine your content, build and keep moving forward.
Vary your strategy:
Whether building your audience online is through organic reach and results or through paid ads, review what works. If you find a pain point, solve the problem, work with the issue and help be part of the resolution.
Host contest, ask questions look for ways to engage your audience. Write blogs, posts highlighting expertise, results of surveys, whatever your audience has show of value to them.
Evaluate your success differently:
If you only base your success on how many calls or website clicks you get, you may find yourself disappointed. If you look at the bigger picture, the long term goals and how your short term goals have kept you on track, you may find you are more successful.
For example: if you only care how many phone calls you have gotten, well if you have not sealed those calls into a deal, it is lost. But if you were to evaluate how many new people know about your business, have commented or engaged with your online platform (social media page or platform) your long term strategy is better aligned for success. You have now started to build recognition. If someone does not need you today, perhaps you will be top of mind for when they do.
Some companies evaluate success by direct results, the value of brand building and recognition is lost because it is not tangible, but holds long term weight. If you have built your online profile to be a recognized leader in your area of expertise, you will be called upon when you are needed. ie: everyone does not need a loan today, but may consider you when they do based on recognizing your name when they are ready.
Be realistic with your goals:
Just like sending out 100 flyers, your results may not be what you hoped, the same works for social media. It is the same as sending flyers out, you will capture some immediately, others shortly after and some longer term down the road. With social media you remain top of mind with many people (especially if you are social and not just sending out media).
If your flyer does not work, do you blame the designer, the copy writer or the mailman? All may be at fault, or none may be. It may actually be ...
You may be the issue
Reputation can hurt, it can hurt for a long time. With online reviews, comments on social media and sharing person to person, if you have a fault in your business, social media is not the fix-it. In fact, if you have horrible customer service, social media just adds a platform for more people to complain about it. You do get an opportunity through comments to fix any issues and respond to customers but it cannot fix an issue.
Social media should enhance your business, compliment your marketing plan and used effectively to communicate and build on a long and short term strategy. It may not be the miracle you are looking for if there are other issues or if your goals are too immediate.