It’s common these days to hear that you HAVE to be active on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter if you are in business, but is that really true? For entertainers, celebrities and sport organizations, keeping in touch with their fan base is important. For businesses the goal is sales not “likes”.

Advertising is about return-on-investment (ROI) and growth. If you have to spend several hours each day responding to inquiries from people that are not likely to be customers, those hours are lost. The same can be said for professional groups and forums. I’ve personally stopped participating in several groups that I had followed on LinkedIn when I looked back over the year and tried to identify any sales I made or useful information I had found. Another successful photographer I know hired an assistant to maintain his Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts. After one year they looked at the money invested in paying the assistant and the business brought in by those activities and the math turned out to be very simple. The result was less than zero. The best use of the assistant’s time was updating the photographer’s website and blog. The website brought in 25% of new business with the remainder of sales consisting of repeat customers and word-of-mouth advertising where the website was useful to showcase the photographer’s work and provide contact information. In 2011 or 2012 Chrysler stopped advertising on Facebook. They still maintain a presence, but they found that the ROI was insignificant and their advertising dollars were better spent elsewhere. Some companies do gain customers through their social media campaigns, but many don’t.

The business model of social media is to gather personal information on its users and sell it to marketing companies and information resellers. While the government is rumored to be much more intrusive by recording phone calls and scanning email, they aren’t selling that information like the commercial sector. Mark Zuckerberg stated publicly some time ago that the reason Facebook exists is to collect personal information and sell it. Many people are concerned about this wholesale invasion of their privacy and do not sign up with social media sites. This means that if your advertising is heavily weighted in social media outlets, you are missing a large number of potential customers, especially those in the higher income brackets. There are also many people who have no interest in the latest online fads (notice how news of MySpace has dried up? They’re still around.) Working professionals and executives spend their free time doing off-line activities and guard their privacy much more closely.


©2013 Kenneth Brown. All rights reserved.