When it comes to social media marketing for small businesses, there are a lot of skeptics. Many small business owners, entrepreneurs, and social media managers have worked for months, even years, building up a dedicated social media following. Yet even if you pour your heart and soul into your social media marketing campaign, you may not see those efforts rewarded with the one thing you actually care about — new customers.

Because while followers, likes, retweets, and shares can be immensely satisfying, most business owners would trade all those thousands of likes for one great new customer.

If you’re seeing limited results from your business’s social media efforts, then here’s the question you may be asking: “Does social media marketing really work?” So let’s talk about when social media marketing can be successful and a few simple tips to keep in mind.

Social Media ROI Depends On Your Goals

First off, it’s crucial to have a plan to understand social media ROI. If you’re investing time and money into any marketing tactic, you need to ensure it’s worth the cost. You need to understand how your social media efforts are contributing to your overall conversions and sales. While you may be getting the “likes” and “shares” you want, you may not be seeing an actual increase in sales. If this is the case, you may end up wasting time and money if you choose to focus all of your marketing efforts towards social media.

When Does Social Media Marketing Really Work?


Social media marketing can be extremely effective is for the purpose of branding. Consumers can check business’ social media to learn more about the company. On average, it takes 6-8 touches with a prospective customer in order to become a lead.  Social Media is a popular step on a consumer’s path to purchase.  It allows them to see if the business is still active, how they interact with followers, check reviews from previous customers and ask questions quickly. 

If You Are A Celebrity

Actors, Athletes, and other celebrities business depends on their following and this is why social media marketing really works for them. In celebrity situations, social media makes their audience feel like they are a part of their high-profile lives.  Since their followers are a specific target market who would love to emulate the celebrity they are following, the products or services that they present to their following is more likely to convert to sales. 

Businesses new to social media have a misconception of its success when they look towards celebrity accounts thinking that they will quickly have the following of a celebrity.  When business owners ask me how long it will take to build up their social media followers. My immediate question is, “Are you a Kardasian?” When they state “No” they quickly understand that their account is not going to suddenly be booming with followers and/or engagement. 

Posting Events

We have seen a lot of success on social media with our clients who host events.  When posting their events to Facebook there is generally an increase in attendance and ticket sales.  This is because Facebook Events feature: 

  • The ability to invite Facebook friends directly to an event.
  • The ability to boost the event through paid ads.
  • The placement of the event in a local calendar for the nearby community.

These features promote events easily and include more targeted calls-to-action than just posting a status update organically to your page.

If you are a celebrity, than the success of a Facebook event tends to be two-fold.  For example, we have worked with musicians who easily sold out concerts by advertising their shows to their location-targeted social media fans.

Paid Social Media Ad Campaigns

Every business model should consider paid social media advertising, like Instagram ads, Facebook ads, and even LinkedIn advertising. According to a survey by GWI, internet users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking and messaging platforms. When people spend that much time on social media, they’re likely to see paid posts. 

However, you might be asking, “Why should I spend money when I can just post an update for free?” To this question, I answer: “Facebook doesn’t want you to make money unless they are making money first.” This has proven true with all of the accounts that we manage paid social media ad campaigns for. 

Perhaps you’ve noticed that when you post a status update from your Facebook page, you get no response? This has to do with Facebook’s algorithm.  In the past, Facebook would show every post from any account you are following in the order that it was posted. This was wonderful for business pages!  Anyone who followed a business page had a high likelihood of seeing every post. 

However, times have changed.  Facebook has since created an algorithm which selects which content to show users based on what it thinks users want to see.  Unfortunately, rarely is it content from business pages. Of course except for extremely engaging posts, popular pages or when the post is paying Facebook to be seen.

Paid posts and ads can take your marketing efforts one step further because they can actually target specific customers — something like local events can be targeted towards only people within the area, increasing the chance of actually making sales.

One of our success stories with Facebook Ads was with a Veteran recruitment program. This program trained US Veterans to become personal trainers and then positioned them in jobs with gyms throughout the US. Through a Facebook Ad Campaign, the program quickly filled its 2,500 application goal with several months of time remaining.

Social Media Contests

Social Media contests, with the right prize, have proven to be one of the most effective ways to gain followers, engage fans and increase email marketing lists. In fact, according to Giveaway Promotion, Social Media Contests produce 7 times more clicks than Google, Facebook and Instagram Ads.

What Should You Do In Addition To Social Media Marketing?

Group Your Strategy With Email and Search Engine Marketing

It’s also important to note that social media marketing can work well when used with other types of online marketing, like email marketing, search engine optimization, local listing management and paid search ads.

Gary Vaynerchuk, a popular digital marketing expert, is known for his promotion of Social Media Marketing. However, even in his book #AskGaryVee, he makes a point to say that your SEO and PPC need to be the first priority.

Encourage Reviews

86% of people read reviews for local businesses.  Plus, Google shows online review ratings for businesses in search results. Those two facts alone show the importance of encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews on your online profiles like Google Business, Facebook, Yelp or the BBB. 

Incorporate Analytics

The worst thing you can do with any marketing strategy is to not monitor your campaign’s success.  This goes for Social Media Marketing too. Ideally, you should use an optics system that tells you which content category, post type, and optimal posting time will work best for your social media content. This way, you can know what is working, cut things that don’t work, and improve upon things that need improvement.

Each social media platform has analytics integrated into it.  Or, you could use social media software like Hootsuite, SproutSocial or Marketing Magintude’s system that aggregates your statistics so they are easy to read. To really narrow down your social media success, you can implement a call tracking system so you know which phone calls are coming from your social media efforts.

If you would like to further details of our advance social media scheduling and analytics software, please contact us.

Keep Consistent

For consistent growth on your social media accounts, you need consistent content. Make sure you are keeping your accounts active with regular posts.  Not only will this keep your current fans engaged, but it will show prospects and search engines that you are still a relevant authority in your industry.

So, can social media marketing be effective? Yes. Is it the only marketing tactic businesses should focus on? No. But by combining building your brand on social media with other marketing tactics, businesses can effectively reach out to a wider audience and gain brand awareness — and hopefully, some new customers along the way.