Social media has become a complete, unstoppable juggernaut over the past ten to fifteen years. It’s the biggest trend of the new millenia, and the new decade. As the 10’s start to close out this year, we’re left in awe of just how huge applications and websites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others have grown.
These apps and sites obviously have huge traffic and huge reach. They can affect business growth to some extent, they have a massive effect on the way news and information is spread, and they have changed the way that some commercial entities operate entirely. However, they are not everything, and this is where the social media juggernaut stops. No one could even attempt to deny the fact that social media can affect a business, how well it does, how much money it makes, how much traffic their website gets, and how many products/services/subscriptions they sell, at least to some degree. It does have an effect, absolutely.
There’s more than just something like Facebook likes when it comes to advertising and business growth, though. Actual sales matter a lot more than just views and likes, and that’s the problem, really. Just because someone likes your content, views it, engages with it—it doesn’t mean that they’re going to buy your product or service, or that they’re even really that interested. Liking a video or a post doesn’t take that long, and it’s often something people do even without thinking, scrolling down their wall, liking anything and everything that isn’t outright offensive or takes too long to read through or process. It’s a treat thrown out easily instead of something that’s hoarded for something that the person is actually really interested in. People like videos that they don’t find that funny, they like posts about games and songs they’ve never played or read, and they certainly like posts about things that they’re not intending to buy any time soon, or ever. That’s the real problem with social media.
The problem has multiple levels to it, too, because at first, you think that any kind of online content marketing could only be a good thing. That’s where a huge number of people are, after all. It’s a giant potential audience that, depending on the kind of business you’re running, might be almost totally untapped as of yet. That doesn’t mean that they’re the right demographic for what you’re selling, though, necessarily—if you’re selling things that mainly older people buy, but you realize that more young people than anything are on social media and/or Facebook, you’re not going to get many real sales or revenue from that.
The short answer is that they don’t matter in terms of quarterly revenue; they are not checks, they are not dollar bills or pennies or anything of actual financial value as currency. The longer answer is a bit more complicated, but essentially the same.
Facebook likes can drive revenue a bit, and they can increase certain aspects of your business that do relate to how much money you make, but they are not actually currency in and of themselves. They may be valued like a kind of pseudomoney, but they are nothing of the sort. The thing you should use to measure how well your business is doing is simply revenue.
That’s a simple enough rule.
So does this mean that Facebook likes are useless? Or that engagement and interest on other platforms, like Twitter, Instagram, or something else isn’t worth anything? No—it just means it’s not worth dumping huge amounts of money into marketing on these platforms to try and get some kind of perceived value out of that when it’s clear they’re not quite as good at generating revenue for businesses as everyone believes.
Look at an article like this, that cites some pretty basic information and statistics, and talks about them for a little while. Overall, across the board, the general thought process seems to be the same, and other content creators, entrepeneurs, and business owners tend to agree. Social media, and social media marketing can be useful, but just because there’s the possibility of it does not guarantee this insane, amazing success, especially out of nowhere.
100 likes in the first thirty seconds of launching a new product or a new trailer for something on your Facebook page is great, but that doesn’t mean that a hundred people bought what you showed them. It doesn’t even mean fifty did, or twenty five. It could be ten or less.
So, we’ve learned and figured out that Facebook likes aren’t everything, and that they don’t only determine the success and failure of a business these days. So they’re not the end-all-be-all. But how do they matter?
Well, one way that social media engagement and interaction matters is in terms of determining stuff like demographics, interest in certain products, and gauging your overall numbers. Social media and stuff like Facebook likes may not generate instant sales or instant revenue, but if you’re smart and you know what you’re doing, you can make it work for you.
Say you plan on launching a new product next year, in the first or second quarter, and you’re a smaller-to-medium sized business with a few million in sales each year. You know what the product is going to be, and you know what kind of demographic you’re targeting the most when you plan on releasing it. So one of your biggest priorities is to judge engagement and see how interested they are. You can get on your social media, maybe tease it a bit, or do some hypothetical posts and see how the community, who loves your previous product, responds to it.
Now you have some numbers that you can use to help gauge how well you think your product is going to actually do.
This is one of the ways that social media, and Facebook likes, can be useful. Just don’t rely on them too much, or think that they’re everything, because they’re proven to be the opposite.