Social media advertising has been all the rage for some time now. You've probably heard from every self-proclaimed expert, myself included, that you need to market to your audience on Facebook, Twitter and whatever other sites they use regularly.
You might be alarmed, then, if you saw the results of a recent study, which found that more social media followers hasn't necessarily equated to more sales. Coca-Cola, for instance, which has 61.5 million Facebook followers, the most of any brand, hasn't seen any statistically significant relationship between their buzz and their short-term sales.
That means you should pull the plug on social media marketing, right?
Not by a long shot.
Integrate, integrate integrate
Coca-Cola has invested substantial time and resources into its social media marketing campaign. Despite not seeing any results so far, the company hasn't even considered allocating its resources elsewhere.
That right there should be a sign.
In fact, Coca-Cola is just as dedicated as ever to social advertising. By itself, social buzz might not noticeably boost sales, but it will as part of an integrated marketing strategy. After all, no single medium is as strong as the combination of media.
How this story applies to you
You might be thinking right now, "What can I take from Coca-Cola's experience with social advertising?" The truth is you can learn a lot - particularly when it comes to the need to integrate social into your other strategies.
If you're a small business owner, social media is a wonderful tool for you. You wouldn't be hearing about it incessantly if that weren't the case.
But the key is understanding the right ways to integrate these sites into your marketing campaign. For example, when you send out emails - something you should continue to emphasize, I might add - include an option in the message that allows consumers to pass your content along.
You never know how far something can travel on the internet these days - a simple, one-sentence message can be retweeted dozens, hundreds, even thousands of times, or re-posted on Facebook by people across state, national and continental borders. Posting messages to Facebook or tweeting them are more successful ways to get your message out there than forwarding emails, so make the process for sharing your content as easy as possible for customers.
Social media by itself might not be a sure-fire way to boost sales, at least not in the short term, but when integrated into other marketing campaigns, it's an effective marketing measure. If you use the right strategies, trust me when I say you'll find success with them.