Readers lukewarm on social media and its benefit

For some, social media is integral to brand development and generating leads. For others, the benefits have been harder to identify
 - 
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine—The latest SSN news poll shows that while the bulk of readers may be using social media, not all of them are convinced of its effectiveness as a business tool.

Most readers (64 percent) said they’re active on the standard social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. But opinion is more divided on the question of whether social media usage actually translates into added accounts, with 43 percent saying they’ve seen no noticeable benefits, versus 34 percent who say social media channels boost brand recognition and business.

One reader proposed the idea that a social media presence may have more to do with managing perceptions than measurable business benefits.

“It seems more that you are stigmatized by absence than generating new business by your presence,” one reader noted, echoing several other readers who said that at this juncture, social media is not viewed as a marketing tool for their businesses.

One respondent noted that while the early returns linked directly to social media may be underwhelming, it’s not yet time to jump ship. “We invest in social media efforts every month through a contractor, and have been doing so for two-and-a-half years,” the reader said. “I can only trace a few new sales to this effort, but we are not going to bail out, but rather try and improve the results.”

Several respondents mentioned their using social media less as a brand development platform than as an easy-to-use index for finding the business partners they need.

“We use social media for prospecting as well as looking for strategic partners we can contact to do work for us,” a respondent said.

Jim Carino is executive director emeritus at Intellenet, an association of retired military and federal agency special agents who network to provide investigative and security services. He said: “Targeting social media would not bring me the type of business for my business plan. We use social media as a resource/tool to check our business.”

Neil Licht, managing director and chief consultant at Here We Are, a marketing and business consulting company, said the key to social media isn’t necessarily about building a presence on the most sites, but the right ones.

“Harvesting customers from social media has nothing to do with how many sites you are on or paid ads,” he said. “It has everything to do with knowing where your natural target audiences hang out online to discuss common issues, challenges and needs that you and your offering can directly solve.”