Ah. social media. It’s a digital party, and everyone’s there to hang out. For marketers, it’s the new horizon, the Wild West, the land of opportunity!
But is it really?
Ever since Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat roared onto the scene in the mid-to-late 2000s and blossomed in the 2010s, businesses around the world have flocked to social media under the misguided promise of a new frontier: everyone’s on social media, and you should go where the customer is, right?
No. The logic of that statement implies that you should go to a high school prom party to sell products aimed at high-schoolers who are just there to have fun. A horrible mistake, indeed.
People are on social media primarily to interact with other people, not to buy things. Despite what your instincts and logic might tell you, even though literally billions of people each day explore social media around the world, it’s not the marketplace and advertising heaven businesses think it is.
Here are a few reasons it’s a terrible idea to rely on social media sites, and on Facebook in particular, to market your product or service.
First, you have to consider why people are using social media in the first place. The keyword in the term “social media” is “social,” meaning that people are on social media primarily for other people! They want to see their friends, their families, the content creators who interest them, to be entertained, informed, amused, enlightened, and the list goes on. People are fascinated by people. They are not primarily going on to social media to look for products or services to buy.
“But Facebook makes billions of dollars a year from advertising, so that means someone’s buying something, right?”
Just because advertisers are paying Facebook massive fees to advertise on the platform doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re getting a healthy return on investment. Also, research indicates that advertisers are spending less on Facebook than before, and the amount of people who use Facebook each day to connect with other people compared to the amount of people who actually end up buying products from Facebook is a drop in the ocean. People aren’t on Facebook to look for your product or service. And when your paid ad interrupts their timeline when they’re trying to see how their cousin is doing or what happened at their friend’s family reunion, they’re probably going to get more irritated than anything else.
Which brings us to the second point…
People hate being advertised to when they are simply trying to use social media to enjoy the things that other people share. You can relate to this. Your friends can relate to this. Having to sit through an advertisement that’s taking up space on your feed or timeline is irritating and annoying. You accept it because subconsciously you know that’s what keeps the site free, but deep down you hate advertisements. And for the billions of people who use social media each day, they experience so many advertisements that it creates an effect called “advertisement fatigue.” Meaning, they are so flooded and inundated with offers to buy products and services that their minds simply become washed over. If you’ve been on social media for more than a week, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Third, as mentioned above, the return on investment for Facebook ads simply isn’t worth it. Facebook and Instagram are very expensive for brands, and their targeting algorithms are questionable at best. In essence, when you pay thousands and thousands of dollars to advertise on Facebook or Instagram, you’re essentially closing your eyes and randomly throwing orange seeds into the air, hoping that one of them lands and grows an orange tree. Not impossible, but you’ll mostly just end up wasting seeds.
It’s much better to focus on building a killer website that uses fantastic content that people are already looking for, so that they come to you when they do a Google search. It’s better to have an amazing site that gives people what they want and market that website through your network of supporters, organic reach, and much more. Throwing a cute picture on Facebook and praying that someone sees it when they’re just trying to connect with friends isn’t going to get your sales numbers up. Plus, they’re going to immediately Google your website anyway, right? The site is where you should focus.
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