When NOT To Spend Money On Social Media

by  | Feb 2, 2022 | Organic Social Media

In my conversations with business leaders and marketers, I’ve noticed a theme. Many of them are ready to spend a good portion of their digital marketing budget on social media. A few common responses I hear include:

  • “I know we should be on social media. We just don’t have the time/resources/skills.”
  • “We’re behind because we’re not on social media.”
  • “Social media is what you’re supposed to be on nowadays.”
  • “We need to start posting as soon as possible.”

These are all legitimate responses. And the urgency to post on social media regularly is justified. In fact, I wrote a blog about why social media is crucial for businesses.

But before I immediately post on Instagram for clients, I make sure they’re crystal clear on what results to expect from social media. We discuss the most effective ways to use their social platforms so that they see better ROI from their digital marketing budget. That discussion often leads to changing the original plan. Instead, we make high-impact changes to other elements of their digital marketing strategy.

Basically, I summon my inner Cleopatra, bust their social media misconceptions and create a plan that will bring in more consistent and warmer leads than social media can.

Social Media As Part Of Your Digital Marketing Budget

There’s no doubt that your business needs to be on social media. Your digital marketing budget should include some spend on social media. Hubspot’s latest marketing data doesn’t lie:

  • The number of global social media users is expected to reach almost 3.43 billion in 2023. (Statista, 2020)
  • 45% of marketers cited “drive conversions” as a key business outcome for social in 2021. (Hootsuite, 2020)
  • More than half of all businesses (60%) are planning to increase their Instagram budget, and almost half are planning to do the same for Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. (Hootsuite, 2020)

Clearly, businesses are investing resources into social media and seeing some results. But how much real-time effort of constant posting, engaging and managing did it take? And if a platform goes down for a few hours or a full day(!), how devastating is that for businesses?

Is there a more sustainable way to convert leads than by relying solely on social media? Are there other things on which businesses should spend their digital marketing budget?

In my humble (and data-backed, experience-led) opinion, yes!

Did you know Hey Sarah creates digital marketing strategies and content plans?

Where To Spend Most Of Your Digital Marketing Budget

In my past experience running social media for businesses, the results we saw were never commensurate with the time we spent on it. Or the dollars we spent from our digital marketing budget. My approach involved posting to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter three times a day and tagging an industry leader in at least one of those posts per day.

Think about all the time it took to plan and write that content, find the handles of industry experts, source images, then schedule everything. Whew. Just thinking about that makes me want to pull out my hair. The results? We got a lot of praise from industry partners and colleagues, likes and shares from followers and a small bump in website traffic. But guess what? I can attribute only one sale to my (exhausting) social media efforts. One.

I used to berate myself about our lack of conversions from social media. I tweaked the strategy so many times. But again and again, the amount of our digital marketing budget we were spending on social media just wasn’t giving us ROI.

I deeply researched best social media practices and continued to hone my own skills. I encountered some game-changing, data-backed concepts. Social media is a great tool for visibility and website traffic, NOT for gaining paying customers. The most effective and sustainable way to gain and convert leads is through valuable, trust-building content on your websiteThat should be a significant portion of a business’ digital marketing budget.

SEO And Content In Your Digital Marketing Budget

Social media has a crucial role for businesses: driving visibility and website traffic. Dedicating some of your digital marketing budget to social media efforts is important. But what are the elements of your strategy in which you should really invest? The data below will guide you:

  • SEO drives 1,000% more website traffic than social media. (Source)
  • 70% of traffic on websites starts with a search engine search. (Source)
  • B2B companies generate TWICE the revenue from organic search than any other channel. (Source)
  • The amount of time social media posts stay at the top of customers’ minds is SHORT–from just a few minutes up to a couple of hours. Blogs, on the other hand, have a lifespan of at least two years. (Source)
  • One way customers determine the trustworthiness of a company is by reading/viewing its content. (Source)

Why Are SEO And Content So Important?

To me, this data indicates the best use of your digital marketing budget is on creating a high-quality, SEO-driven website and creating long form SEO-driven content that lives on your website (like a blog!). These are the things that will gain the trust, and then dollars, of your customers.  Short form content in the form of social media can spike customers’ interest in your company and get them to come to your website. But it will take multiple pieces of longer content before they’ll put down their wallets. Furthermore, if you focus exclusively on social media, you’re missing an entire audience who is using Google to search for keywords that you can target through your own content. And these leads are typically warmer than those that come from social media, as supported by the organic search data above.

What About Industries More Dependent On Social Media?

This is a common–and important question.

What about brands in highly visual spaces such as travel, outdoors, hospitality, real estate and others? Consumers expect these companies to be on social media. They tend to trust the ones with a very strong social media presence. As we’ve learned, the more trust you gain from your target consumers, the more likely they are to buy from you.

If you lead a brand in one of these spaces, social media should be a crucial part of your digital marketing budget. But the importance of long form, SEO-driven content on your website still applies.

This tip comes from David Martin, the genius behind UX Hacks: Think about what your target consumers intend to do when they go on social media. For example, many consumers go on Instagram to be entertained or intrigued. They do not go on Instagram with the intent to make a purchase. Your goal, then, is to catch consumers’ interest and build some trust with them on Instagram, then lead them to your website where your longer, more valuable content lives. It is still through this content that you build the most trust with consumers, which will then move them to take an action–sign up for your email list, book a trip, schedule a call, etc.

Don’t Forget About Organic SEO Search

Remember, your target consumers–even those in highly social media-dependent industries–don’t use social media exclusively. They also use search engine searches to find what they need. SEO-driven, valuable content is the best ways to capture them. And when those leads land on your website, they’re even more likely than those coming from social media to take an action or buy from you. Why? Because the intent of their Google search is to find an answer to their question or achieve their goal. The intent of a social media scroll is to be entertained or intrigued.

Companies in these highly visual spaces will do well if they invest a significant portion of their digital marketing budget into SEO-driven content and their website.

What To Do Next

To get the best results out of your digital marketing budget, take stock of how you’re spending it now. Focus on how much your social media efforts cost. Think about the amount of time your staff spends running your company’s platforms, any paid ads you use, stock image databases, etc. How many leads and how much revenue can you attribute to social media?

If the balance is out of whack, consider having your marketing team create a scaled-back social media strategy. Maybe they post less frequently, pause paid ad campaigns and/or use only 1-2 social media platforms.

Have them conduct keyword research about the phrases that your target consumers are searching. Have them post two long form blogs/month based on those keywords, with a goal of posting four blogs/month. They can take excerpts from the blogs to post on social media to invite consumers to read the full blog, then take a specific action after reading. You could give this a try for three months and see how many leads and/or conversions you get as compared to focusing more of your digital marketing budget on social media.

Final Recommendation

To wrap up, I recommend spending more of your digital marketing budget on SEO-driven content that will live on your website, rather than on social media.

Social media is a fantastic tool to make your company visible and drive website traffic. When it comes to turning that traffic into leads and conversions, content is the more effective investment. Cleopatra out!

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