If social media isn’t making you any money, maybe you’re doing it wrong


is social media making you money

Part of what we do for clients is manage their social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, YouTube – I’m a big believer in social media as a great way to generate buzz, keep your brand top-of-mind, build SEO through legitimate content development, communicate your USP, and all kinds of other good stuff.  And I think just about every brand can benefit from social media strategies.


I know an awful lot of people who are spending an awful lot of time on social media, installing all kinds of Twitter widgets and checking their Klout scores every 2 hours and hosting online radio chats for the same 5 participants every week…and who still aren’t making a whole lot of money, either for themselves or for the companies they’re working for.

Remember, ultimately, the whole point of social media (for businesses) is the same as the whole point of advertising and marketing:  To make it easier to sell stuff.  

Oh, I know you can’t always draw a straight line from 5000 Twitter followers and $X in revenue, any more than you can draw a straight line from a billboard by the highway and $X in revenue.  And I know there are side benefits from strong social media presences, like recruiting.  And I even know that it’s important to look at the long-term build – it can take months for a successful social media campaign to really have an impact on sales.

If you’ve been spending 15+ hours a week on Twitter for the past year, and haven’t seen a sales increase of any kind, it may be time to ask yourself some questions:

  • Do I really know why we’re doing this?  In other words, do we have a strategy?
  • Can we point to any anecdotal evidence that our social media efforts have delivered an ROI?  (Such as a new client first heard of us because of the buzz we’d built on social media, or that the best hire all year came to us through our Facebook page.)
  • Is our website traffic benefiting from social media via clickthroughs from social media channels?  
  • When our salespeople call potential clients, are they increasingly saying “Oh, I’ve heard of you guys!”?
  • Is it easier for us/me to get meetings with potential clients?
  • Has our Google ranking increased?  (Good social media content, and a long-term blog about your brand’s industry, will push your rankings higher.)
  • Are our products/services less price sensitive than they used to be, thanks to increased brand equity?
  • Have we been invited to events and speaking engagements (as a participant or speaker, not a paying attendee!) as a result of the profile we’ve built via social media?

If the answers to at least a few of these questions are yes, then you’re probably not wasting your time with social media, and the ROI should start showing up any time now.

If not…well, it’s possible you’re spending too much time on social media for its own sake, and not enough time thinking about what it’s really supposed to do for the business overall.

Using Facebook advertising in the wrong way

Benihana:  Scaring away the brand awareness

So I was reading Lamebook, as I do, because I really am serious about that procrastination I mentioned on the homepage, and came across this little gem:

Benihana bad customer service

This is a great example of how not to use the new Facebook feature to link statuses to actual businesses – if people start to realize that brands are not only monitoring them like Big Brother, but then punishing them for mentioning their names, they’ll pretty soon stop mentioning them.  Which is a potential loss of a lot of eyeballs.

And Benihana:  Really?  Was the $20 or less you ‘saved’ calling Jason out on his possible double-couponing (which, by the way, isn’t even clear from his status – his reference to multiple birthday coupons could have meant anything from gift certificates to coupons from other retailers) really worth the damage you just did to your brand by looking like the kind of company which stalks people on Facebook and punishes them like this? 

Especially when we all know that Jason could have been in the system twice through no fault of his own – plenty of companies have terrible data collection and management systems, and it’s entirely possible that poor Jason wasn’t trying to run a ‘scam’ at all, but was simply sent two free lunch coupons in error because Benihana has a junior halfwit managing their database, who doesn’t know how to run a script to catch duplicates.

Though this little incident goes a long way to explaining why every Benihana I’ve ever been in has ratty carpets, old-fashioned (and just plain old) decor, and is correspondingly overpriced. 

Don’t spoil a great branding moment with too much talking

So I noticed a blog over on Head2Head’s RecruitSmart site about what looks like a great recruiting video which also functions as a good little branding piece:

Now, I agree that it’s a great little video – having done a lot of work in recruitment marketing over the years, including the odd video, I know that videos like this can be great for the brand, great for attracting potential employees, great for building employee morale (“Look at the cool stuff we do!”) and can become a great calling card when talking to clients about how you (and the people who work for you) really are different and better.


StepChange then goes on to explain their video with what looks to be a media release:

“Every major industry’s saddled with stereotypes: lawyers are heartless, bankers are money-hungry and clowns are downright terrifying. So it’s no surprise the advertising world is just as riddled with clichés and hackneyed typecasting…except of course that with every stereotype comes an element of truth. That’s the thinking behind the cheeky recruitment drive of growing start-up consultancy firm ‘Step Change Marketing’ and their ‘Wankers That Don’t Work Here’ campaign…”[that’s just the first of several paragraphs explaining why they did the video and how ‘edgy’ it is].

This is where they lose points.

First of all, the target audience for this video (i.e. people who work in advertising) already knows all about these stereotypes and clichés – they don’t need them explained.

Second of all, an explanation like this is sort of like someone telling you a joke, hearing you laugh, and then saying, “But, see, the frog put the hat on – get it? And then the duck took it off again! Did you get it?

The best work speaks for itself – it doesn’t need defending or explaining, and if there are a handful of people who don’t ‘get it’, well, they weren’t the target anyway, were they?

StayAwake is 10 years old. I can’t believe it either.

Welcome to the new and improved StayAwake site.  I know it looks a lot like the old StayAwake site, but I’m a big believer in maintaining long-term brand equity.  More importantly, I still love the paramecium image just as much as I did when we first put it up here back in 2003.

So we’ve been here at StayAwake.tv for 10 years now – I think having the same email address (sarah@stayawake.tv) for 10 years straight has to be some kind of record.  We’ve changed some in the past 10 years, but our basic principles are still the same:  We think that marketing isn’t brain surgery.  It’s really just about keeping someone’s attention long enough to tell them why your product or service is important, and giving them a reason to care about it.

The hard part, of course, is figuring out why your product or service is important, who it’s important to, and then getting their attention.

I’ll be talking more about that as this blog goes on, but in the meantime let’s just answer some FAQs, to get them out of the way.


Why the name StayAwake?

StayAwake, the marketing consultancy, may have started in 2001, but StayAwake was actually born in 1992 as a ‘zine (remember ‘zines?).  My friend Martha and I, recent English grads, felt that our recession-era careers in real estate just weren’t giving us sufficient creative outlets, so we started putting together this little DIY magazine with stories, photography and poetry by ourselves and others.  One of these days I’ll scan some samples for you; in the meantime I think it’s enough to know that some of our contributors have gone on to win awards, fellowships and even some fame.  We had good taste.


Why the paramecium? (that single-celled organism on the homepage) 

Because paramecia have all these little cilia (hairs) on the outside, enabling them to move super-fast and absorb everything from the environment in which it lives.  Which is I think the job of a great marketer:  to move quickly, to be aware of everything in the environment, and to absorb and assimilate new information all the time.)


Why the .TV extension?

Because back in 2001 when I first set up the website, the .com extension was taken by a cyber-squatter (still is, actually), and you could only get a .ca extension if you could prove you had offices in more than one province, which of course we didn’t.  So .tv seemed like a good alternative.  I still don’t know why more people don’t use it.


Is StayAwake really just you, Sarah Welstead?

Well…sort of.  Think of me as a virtual marketing director, who can assemble the right people for whatever marketing initiative you’re undertaking.