Reaching People on Social Media is About Consistency

There's an exciting thing that can happen when you first start advertising on social media. The organic measures of exposure are quickly fading away, so when you get that first boost of exposure as a result of spending very little money, it can become addicting.

It's a trap. Overexposing at the wrong time to the wrong people can prevent you from being able to reach the right people in the future, particularly on Facebook. As I've mentioned many times, social advertising is very different from other forms of online advertising as the performance of the content being promoted has a dramatic and often instant impact on subsequent posts.

In other words, done wrong, you can do real damage.

The story of the tortoise and the hare is one that few want to hear. They don't want their advertising to resemble that of a slow tortoise in any way, shape, or form. However, the reality is that it's the best way to reach the most people in the long term as well as in the short term. Look at these statistics:

As with nearly every attempt at social media, there's a quick spike. Just about everyone who is not using advertising in their social media is having a hard time truly reaching anyone, particularly at the local level. Even with a strategy grounded in consistency, there is still the initial spike and it's almost always a noticeable difference.

The problem is that with many of the pages I check out that are using social media advertising, the view is much different. It's high peaks and low valleys. The overall reach early on is great. The problem is that the spikes are damaging. There's no consistent growth of active fans. There's no steady engagement being built up. It's happening all at once.

There are plenty of reasons why slow and steady after the initial burst is preferable to spikes and low points, but the biggest reason is that the overall number of people reached is much, much higher when it's done with a sound steady strategy. It's not easy to see because Facebook doesn't offer the proper tracking and because it's somewhat counter-intuitive, but once you really dive in and see what's happening it makes sense.

You see, the 10,000 people reached one week are not the same 10,000 people reached the following week. Sure, there are plenty of people (if you're doing it right) who see most of the things you post, but a consistent strategy aimed at spreading out the reach is much more effective at reaching the masses. Facebook insights don't portray this properly which is why you see so many who throw money at Facebook to see the big spikes. It feels like you're reaching more people that way, but you're not.

The only time there should be spikes is when there's something extremely important to get exposed. These should be rare. Sure, there's always something really important going on - the big sale, a new model rolling out, incentives, etc. - but it has to be social gold as well a being important. Otherwise, standard promotion will do the trick.

Unfortunately, it's very easy based on the fallacies in Facebook Insights for a company to demonstrate their effectiveness using inflated numbers. The biggest problem is that it cannot be sustained that way. Social media advertising is the easiest thing to do. It's also the easiest thing to do wrong.

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Article originally appeared on Soshable.

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Comment by Charles Shamblee III on July 17, 2013 at 4:18pm

Daniel... I don't know how others are showing social/FB ROI, but we are showing it via app reports generated for our dealer users.  Dealers are able to review daily or whenever to see exactly what service and/or sales leads are being generated via direct marketing or viral exposure... we have tracking codes associated with everything marketing and in-app data mining for every click, so we can follow consumer movement throughout their app lifecycle.

Comment by Daniel Tegeder on July 17, 2013 at 2:05pm

With Social media becoming more popular how do we know the results if its a walk not sprint

are there any reports or studies on ROI or what is the best way to use facebook?  

Comment by Charles Shamblee III on July 17, 2013 at 1:44pm

Agreed JD. I will take this further; we develop a social app that resides within the Facebook platform community... our app provides customer management and lead generation for both car sales and service.  The application has in-app ad marketing, social notifications and email marketing that are all proactive and reactive... we even run start-up promotions that generate Facebook Likes and app sign-ups based on incentive programs.  This process is a journey, not a sprint... but the rewards are revenue gains through social engagement.  Profitable ROI for the dealer... nothing happens overnight, but it is consistent.

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