Is Social Media Valuable for your Business?
Social media has an amazing ability to waste hours of my day, leaving me with nothing to show for it.
It is a huge distraction and not conducive to immersive work. But is social media valuable for your business and if so how?
I’m looking at this from the point of view of a music professional (composer, music producer or artist) but I feel the principles apply to any industry.
Social Media is essentially free advertising and can be a very powerful tool for building your brand. And I think “brand” is the key.
In this article I’m going to discuss:
- Measuring Success – what are the metrics?
- How much time should you spend doing it?
- What is the cost? Time and financial
- Engagement vs Likes
I wrote a rant about the value of social media last year which I never posted.
Since then my opinion has changed somewhat so I’m starting again, although you can read my original post below if you so wish.
Measuring the Success of Social Media
I’ve always looked for some kind of metric in order to understand the value it brings and therefore justify the time spent doing it. So, if I spend five hours posting content each week, how many extra customers will it bring me. But you can’t really look at it like that.
It’s best to think of it as brand advertising, and by that I mean doing it and not trying to quantify the outcome. (if you want to know a bit more about brand, I wrote Building a Brand in Music)
Nike doesn’t spend £10million on a TV ad campaign and expect to quantify it in terms of ‘extra trainers sold.’ They are creating brand perception and staying top of mind.
Think of your social media activity as guiding people’s understanding of what you do, your values, but also gently reminding them that you are there and capable should the need arise. It’s a long term endeavour.
Game of Thrones Funk – Case Study
I had a video go viral.” I did a funk version of the ‘Game of Thrones’ theme and got 36,000 views in a few days. (video here: https://www.facebook.com/LarpMusic/videos/924185464413949/
From those views I got 43 additional follows/Likes. That’s 0.1% conversion. Not even 1%. And that was “organic” i.e. I didn’t pay for it.
I mention this to highlight the futility of considering ‘page likes’ or follows as a metric for success.
How Much Time Should You Spend on Your Social Media?
Now as a composer and music producer, I add most value by making music. I want to spend as much time as possible doing it, in order to consistently get better at what I do. I’m also only as good as my last piece of work.
So the idea of spending five hours a week working on social media seems ludicrous. That’s five hours I could be spending practicing my craft. But then if I’m not earning money from my craft, it’s a hobby rather than a profession.
It’s worth pointing out here that social media can be very time consuming. There are many on the internet who would have you believe that doing a bit of social media is simple and takes five minutes.
But the core business of the people who say this, is social media. They can justify spending 12 hours per day doing it. Your core business is music and as such that is where your focus should lie.
I don’t have a hard figure for how much time should be spent doing social media. Honestly it’s quite low down my list of priorities in terms of time allocation. I try to do a bit each week but when I’m busy and working to deadline, it’s the first thing that I drop.
Creating Content for Social Media
One of the most time consuming elements is content creation although Gary Vaynerchuck raises a great point about simply documenting what you do. If you are simply documenting your work then the burden of creating content is lifted.
If you are making music then that is key content but then I feel the challenge lies in finding a way to package it so that it goes beyond self promotion.
Engagement is Key with Social Media
Seth Godin talks about “the smallest viable market” in his book ‘This Is Marketing’ which shifts the importance from volume to relevance.
The algorithms of Instagram, Facebook etc. are looking for engagement. By engagement we mean people interacting with your content (liking, commenting etc.)
It’s better to have fewer followers and higher engagement as the algorithms value this more. You can more accurately gauge the success of an instagram profile by looking at the follower to engagement ratio.
What is the Cost of Social Media?
Now social media is free. It provides you with organic reach for your content and you don’t have to pay. However, at the time of writing this, a post on Facebook only shows up in 2-4% of the feeds of your followers. If you want to reach more you have to pay.
Instagram has more organic reach but it is going the same way. So realistically in order to get the reach you want for your content you will have to pay.
So now it’s no longer just a question of how much time you spend but also how much money you spend, if any.
Growing a Small Business
Now as a small business, spending a bit of money on making sure your work is seen by the right people is important. You need to decide how much you can feasibly spend and also make sure that it is highly targeted.
Targeted advertising on Facebook and Instagram is a good way to do this. As is Google Ads. I’m lucky that I have a marketing background so understand the mechanics of these but for the uninitiated it can be an intimidating minefield.
If you want to learn more there is a great channel called Surfside PPC with lots of tutorials https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEzSSbs3Wfe5p4dBzzjrjvw
There is No Substitute for Face to Face
Whilst having a comprehensive website and social media presence is an important part of your business offering it is not everything. Building real life face to face relationships is a much more effective way to build a business. So for me, networking or “community building” will always be a priority. I’ve also written an article: 5 Tips – Why Networking is Critical in Music
Below is my original rant about social media.
I hate social media. The irony that I’m using it as a vehicle for this rant is not lost on me.
My main objection is that it has an amazing ability to waste hours of my day, leaving me with nothing to show for it.
It is a huge distraction and it’s not conducive to immersive work.
But my interest is in social media is in its value to me professionally. So as a provider of content rather than simply a consumer. This could be as a:
- Composer/Music Producer
- Artist (or rather a label promoting an artist)
Most marketing professionals and the networks themselves tell us how important social media is. But then they have a vested interest in you using it.
The networks need your eyeballs and constant attention to sell advertising. The marketing people sell superior knowledge on how to leverage it and can do it on your behalf… for a fee.
Now there is no doubt in my mind that social media can be an important tool if employed correctly. There are people who make careers out of it.
But if your goal isn’t to make a career out of being really good at social media, the big question is how much actual value does it bring you and how long should you spend doing it?
Twitter Me This
I did an experiment last year with Twitter (wrong platform for me but the learnings are relevant). I found that creating content for around six unique tweets per day took me about five hours per week. That’s coming up with the content, writing the tweets, researching hashtags, finding pictures (pictures increase appeal), and scheduling them. I then spent a bit of time engaging with likes etc.
The goal was to drive traffic to my website. I don’t have any quantitative data but in terms of traffic there was no huge increase Engagement was minimal but there is so much noise on Twitter (and other platforms) it’s very difficult to be heard.
I would need to spend a lot more time doing it, looking at the stats and refining my approach for it to be beneficial. It simply wasn’t sustainable.
As a composer, those five hours per week could be spent writing a piece of music or practicing the piano, helping me to get better at my craft. That to me is real value. And as someone who’s principal content output is music, that is where my focus should be, rather than getting good at Twitter.
As an ‘Artist’ I think there is greater value to be had from social media. It’s a great way to engage with people who like you music. And engagement is the key.
There is no point in having thousands of followers if you get five people engaging with your posts. That means that most of your followers are not relevant.
It’s better to have one hundred highly engaged followers. Seth Godin talks about “the smallest viable market” in his book ‘This Is Marketing’ which shifts the importance from volume to relevance.
But how much time should you spend creating content, posting and engaging with people. What’s the opportunity cost of spending five, ten or twenty hours a week doing it?
At the time of writing, you can only expect between 2-4% of your followers to see your organic posts on Facebook. Why? Because advertising is their principal revenue stream and they want you to pay for boosts.
I had a video go “viral”. I got 36,000 views of a Funk version of the Game of Thrones theme. (video here: https://www.facebook.com/LarpMusic/videos/924185464413949/
From those views I got 43 additional page follows. That’ 0.1% conversion. Not even 1%. And that was “organic” i.e. I didn’t pay for it.
I don’t have any answers about how much time you should spend but I think less is more. Purely because I believe I can add more value to my professional endeavours by getting better at what I do.
What’s Your Goal?
It’s also important to understand what you want to achieve through social media.
More likes? More follows? Why? Will that get you more work? Get more people to you gigs?
And given that only 2-4% of your followers will see your posts you will have to pay to get more exposure. How much?
Imagine you spend £200 on advertising which gets you 10 additional people to a gig (that’s again a pretty generous conversion rate). The tickets cost £10 so you make an additional £100. But your net loss is £100 because you spent £200.
Sure it’s 10 new people at a gig and they will hopefully talk about you. But can you afford that? Could that money be spent elsewhere on better exposure?
Could it have been spent on recording a new track that would add to your catalogue and provide value to your fans?
So I don’t doubt that there is value to be had from social media but you need to understand what that value is. That you know what you want to achieve and how you can measure it.
Social media is engineered to be addictive so knowing the value may help you avoid a costly addiction.