Until recently, a business that made the right moves could succeed on a well-controlled marketing budget without too much effort. That changed with Google’s three major alterations to how it ranks sites in search results. Sites with great page rank vanished. The game changed.

The changed accelerated the stampede to social media.

We’ve heard about the dire need for presence on social media for the past couple of years. Recently there has been a frenetic push by marketing companies to get businesses involved in Facebook and Twitter. Why? Because they can sell it. Anyone with basic knowledge can set up a Facebook page. A little more know-how and that page will have 100 likes. So what.

So what? That must always be the central marketing question. So you’re now on Facebook and 100 “people” like you. That translates to how much sales? What? You say you can’t directly measure those results but social media contributes to the whole marketing plan.

I disagree. If you cannot measure results from a marketing expense and effort, it isn’t contributing.

Social media will positively contribute to about 10% of businesses. That’s right. The rest of us are just adding to the noise of the internet and the coffers of social media moguls.

How to determine if social media is right for you.

Community. Can you build an active community around your business? The keyword there is active. Getting 1,000 likes won’t put a penny in the bank. You need an active community. That means you are providing a place for people to talk about your business. If 1,000 people show up but nobody talks, you’re hosting a bad party not a successful social media campaign. They must want to talk about your business and about the business you are in.

Few people I work with have time to interact on Facebook. The things we do are not subjects for public discussion. We don’t want to post something about fixing your grammar errors or saving your home from foreclosure in the openness of Facebook!

If you can get a conversation started, social media will benefit you. If not, it will take your time without giving back a thing.

If you cannot get the conversation started, kill the page.

How to get a conversation started?

Start by having something to say that will interest others. They really do not care about you, your business, your quality or prices or your hair style. The central question is ALWAYS, “what is in it for me?”

Your Facebook page can become a complaint resolution center. That’s only good if people can see complaints being resolved.

Your Facebook page can be a fun center. Have a contest. Photo submission contests work nicely.

If you do not see traction, quit wasting your time.

“They”, the people who sell marketing services, must sell the message that social medial is vital. Remember that! Consider the source.

Here’s an alarming trend. Facebook is rapidly losing younger users. Read the story   What does that say about the future of Facebook? Well, if your market is in the retired class of the national demographic, fine. But if your business needs that 30 and under age group, be concerned.

Three Key Points in Summary

1. Social Media is Only Worth Your Time if Worth Your Time—No Return Deserves No Investment
2. Social Media is NOT About Likes. Social Media is ALL about Engagement.
3. The Future of Social Media is Cloudy—Be Careful

If you cannot generate engagement, don’t waste your time. Spend it elsewhere.

Chris Reich, TeachU, BizPhyZ