How You Know When Social Media Marketing Works

Here’s an guest post on social media marketing by Joel Fortner. He specializes in helping entrepreneurs be better marketers. He is also the author of the intelligent blogGet Serve Keep. You can guest post as well. Read how to here.

Ledership, Marketing, Social Media

As I wrote about here, many entrepreneurs are pretty frustrated with social media because they’re not getting results.

We all hear about successes but few are actually experiencing them.

In my experience, this is because many businesses put too much pressure on it, expecting to land sales through engagement with followers. Sorry but that’s very rare. Inter-related, people often measure the wrong stuff.

Get nerdy

In marketing, it’s imperative to measure so you know what’s working and what isn’t, but it’s ultra-imperative you measure the right stuff.

For instance, tracking website page views isn’t very helpful. Neither is tracking Facebook page “likes,” Twitter followers or blog subscribers, especially if these aren’t people who will ever buy.

Another reason “likes” and followers aren’t helpful is because people find social sites in so many ways. It’s very difficult to tell who these people are and if they will ever be interested in buying from you.

Well how do you know if they’ll ever buy? Filter in those who may. Enter measurement step one.

Facebook Is An Oven

Think of social media as your relationship-building oven. It’s where you get to know people, build rapport, and establish your expertise.

And you keep your oven running until you’re ready to make the next move. That could be to download a white paper, attend an event, watch a webinar, write a review, or a thousand other things. But the key to this step is eliciting a name and/or email.

The point is to get people to take an action. Why? Because those who do are more likely to ultimately buy from you down the road, and by giving some information to get whatever you gave, they’ve identified themselves to you. That’s measurable!

At this point, you continue to make moves to get this smaller group of people to take an action, furthering filtering themselves in, until you finally make the sales pitch to your warmest prospects.

If you’ve done this correctly, you will see conversions. I’m living proof of that as nearly all of my marketing coaching clients originated with social media.

Question: Are you one of the frustrated or one of the success cases? Share below!

You can go deeper with Social Media Marketing and much more by downloading Joel’s free eBook, Small Business Guide to Marketing: Ideas You Must Know & Mistakes You Must Avoid, by subscribing to his marketing blog. Click here.



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

58 thoughts on “How You Know When Social Media Marketing Works”

  1. I’ve definitely seen the impact of social media on growing my platform. It’s not a business (yet!), but I am starting to see how it could be one someday. Social media cannot be overlooked in marketing any kind of business or endeavor these days. It is such a powerful tool.

  2. Way to simplify a complicated topic Joel! I really appreciate that!

    I’ve read a lot on this subject and admit to being frustrated at times. I think my biggest issue is exactly like you said; putting pressure on it doesn’t work. And the fact that I tend to get lost in it and spend way too much time!!

    Anyway, it seems a lot more fun if you just enjoy it, and keep it limited. I was listening to Seth Godin the other night and he was talking about the fact that if you are a business, you shouldn’t depend on FB or any other social media site for your engagement. It’s too risky!

    It’s not that you shouldn’t use it – he was saying the same thing as you…filter down and get that email address! It’s still the best way to connect and build trust.

    Now, I’m off to go download that ebook of yours…

    1. I’m so glad this was helpful! In my experience, there’s so much competing info out there, it’s easy to get confused and frustrated as you said. Clarifying what’s effective and what’s not and seeing lights go off in people’s mind is probably the greatest joy in my coaching job! So thanks for the feedback. It’s very encouraging for me!

  3. My pen business is where I find this challenging. It’s easy to have a facebook page ( for the sake of this discussion) and I try to post to it every few days, or whenever I’ve completed something new.

    But that “download a whitepaper” step or something similar is a challenge for me; there’s no good equivalent I’ve found for “come take a taste” of a custom pen. I’m planning to make some lower-end pens that I can turn out in very little time and sell for a fraction of what my higher-end pens go for, but even there, I’m asking folks to buy them. There’s nothing I can really give away that I’ve thought of. Unless the collective wisdom of this group can think of something pen-and-paper-related. Hint, hint.

        1. Where’s Matt with his ThankYouThursdays in this self-promo section?

          And remember, there are cards at! (sorry – couldn’t get left out of this subject)

          Oh, and the book “A Simple Act of Gratitude” by John Kralik might also trigger some ways to promote the pens.

    1. time to delve into the beauty and lost art (recently also revisited by George Bush’s book on his letters to friends and family and colleagues) perhaps series of posts showcasing peoples best treasures- shared memories hand written- a web trove of “Letters in a bottle”, or “The Notebook- ” type of encounters- whether you invite your readers to share their journal entries- or their love letters, or their best atta boy moments- all scripted by hand that they treasure…people can see the beauty of what your pen can deliver. I know I have many letters from my Dad-someone who has touched my heart through his writing- that if I shared his insight through a promotion of this type; and that if my prize would be a artwork/beautiful custom pen to share with him, I would be blessed both in the sharing and the acknowledgment that his mode of communication is so treasured it is only worthy to be delivered by your pen.. . or for my Boss who will then want one to give to me inspire me to pen my best thanks yous to clients..So if I enter and don’t win- while I am on your site I am inspired to want to reach the same level as the others- then I am making the investment in your product because all these stories make me feel as if it flowed from a unique source of creativity and power imbued by its maker, and His Maker. I can see the possibilities unfold and I am excited- and its all imaginary…but that’s how I see your tie in and promotional piece to have a start..(and I am sorry- haven’t looked- I am sure you have already thought of it- I am slow to cross reference_)

      1. A while back, I promised to give a pen away on my birthday. Since its coming up, I massaged your idea a bit and turned it into a contest trying to get people to post images of handwritten letters from their lives. I’ll pick one at random and let them choose a pen as their prize. Thanks for the inspiration! This is way more fun than “like this picture to be entered to win it”….

    2. How about ordering some quality Thank You cards branded with Somerset Penworks on the back? You can enter your followers for a drawing of a package of 10 Thank Yous and envelopes? I know @MattMcWilliams has an idea or two about that…

      1. My problem is that I want to do everything right now. But as Dave says, “Every time I read the book, the tortoise wins.” So I have to keep the brakes on, infuse cash slowly for the time being and do what I can. Just today I spent $15 on some foldover business cards at Staples that I’m going to use as inserts so I can print some instructions and serial numbers and birth dates for each pen to stick inside the box. And it’ll have my web site on it and so on too…. But something like this would be great!

        1. I love the fact that your pens have birthdates…they’re like the cabbage patch dolls of the pen world!! haahhahahaha whew, I crack myself up!
          But seriously, cool ideas. I gotta come up with some cool stuff like that for my self. Maybe like the kill date…hmm, might steer away from that one…haha

    3. How about a card with the old-fashioned Palmer Method of the alphabet on it? It certainly would be nostalgic. I’ve heard that people are forgetting how to write in cursive, so it could be helpful. It could be on a card insert with the pens, it could be a download thingie, it could even eventually be printed as use for Thank You cards. . . the alphabet grayed out in the background, with Thank You written in strong black over the top.

  4. Great article and I agree 100%. Building relationships is vital for your business. When someone needs services you offer they will remember your business if they have stayed connected with you. Thank you!

  5. Love the idea of Facebook being the relationship building oven. I’ve definitely seen a higher level of engagement for my nonprofit in the last month of being much more active on social media. Blogged every day and posted FB updates and tweets – and seeing an increase in shares, in retweets, and in awareness. Now, if I can just figure out how that translates into an increase in donations. Thanks for the great post Joel.

  6. Great post Joel.

    I think the “social” part is where most businesses go wrong. Too many people toying around with social media assume that they are delivering a message to people. While that may be the case, social media is far more powerful when you allow *others* to talk about you. Some people call this “social currency.”

    Take Blentec, a company that sells blenders of all things. They are wildly successful because of a little video series they did called “Will It Blend?” where they test out the quality of their mundane blenders by putting things like iPads and marbles in to see if the blender breaks (it doesn’t). These videos give people something to talk about (would you blend you iPad?), which in turn gives people the social currency to add these videos in to their daily conversations (did you see the video of a blender versus an iPad?). They never really talk about prices or features, but they do give a conversation piece that sticks in your head.

    Social currency is far more powerful than social messages, like a post on Facebook saying that you got a widget on sale. Currency can be created by free things (webinars and whitepapers as Joel mentioned) and by things that are emotionally powerful (blenders, art, stories). I think the main goal is to develop something worth sharing….

    1. Totally! I wrote recently about being intentional about creating shareable moments to create buzz and word of mouth sharing. Since most people use social media and nearly half the country has a smartphone, not creating shareable moments is a huge missed opportunity!

  7. Joel, I’ve learned a lot from you over the past year! It’s very clear to me how you don’t need to be pushing your product or service to people if you know how to pull them from the relationships you have built. Social media is key. It irritates me to no end when people on Twitter set their autoreply to “Thanks for following me, here, buy this”. I don’t even know who they are and they’re already pushing something.

    Savvy entrepreneurs will spend the necessary time designing an effective strategy to serve, not sell.

    1. Thanks, Lily! And yes yes yes! Unfortunately, those people are well intentioned but they’re putting too much pressure on single ideas to sell something. It doesn’t work that way, as you pointed out. In marketing as in investing, be the turtle.

  8. Thanks for this article. In my local marketing business, I find myself pulling business owners from the ledge of social media because they attend so many conferences where the “expert,” usuallysomeone with something to sell, has convinced them it is the end all be all. It isn’t. It is a nice way to connect with rabid fans, but getting prospects to do something once they are there is crucial, otherwise they are gone for good. The surest way to business growth is the referral, and asking clients to pass your name along if they like your product is still the name of the game!

    1. I couldn’t agree more. The key word there is “ask.” Don’t wait. Ask your happy customers to refer you. Happy people don’t mind doing that at all. In my experience, they welcome it! Leverage their love!

  9. It seems that frustration with social media marketing comes when we have unrealistic expectations of what it will do. It’s not a silver bullet… It’s just one tool in your marketing tool belt.
    I love the idea of looking at social media as your relationship building tool! Good Stuff Joel! Thanks!

    1. Mark – GREAT comment – and I totally agree. “unrealistic expectations” is what I see all the time with my team – and my encouragement to them to use SM. It is just ONE tool in building relationships!

  10. Great post! I have been trying to use social media to help build a platform for my business. Luckily enough for my, at some point I have heard that the biggest key using social media wouldn’t be on making a quick sell, but instead creating a relationship that may lead to a sell down the road. Does anyone actually “promote” their posts on Facebook? If so, what kind of response did you get?

    1. Yes! Social media is about relationship warming. The reality is most followers will not buy so you need a step to get the most interested people to filter themselves in. This way you can focus your efforts on that smaller, more targeted group of people and direct communication to them.

    2. I do promote my posts on FB – and on Twitter. And I have actually picked up some followers and commenters as a result. But unfortunately (for me) I haven’t developed the consistency I need – or I would have a platform built by now!

      1. I understand that! Consistency has been the single biggest reason for my increases in numbers. For a long time, I would put things up sporadically on my pages, but in the last few months I have been much more consistent. Now, I haven’t tried promoting just yet. Also, I am still learning what gets some sort of response, but I am getting a little better everyday. I’ve also been trying to make sure to interact more. That one has been tough, mainly due to time. I am trying to figure out some times in my schedule that I can devote specifically for that.

  11. Thanks for sharing this, Joel. This is something that I’m trying to learn and (someday) master. I often find myself becoming impatient – like having to wait for 30 seconds at McDonalds. I look forward to talking with you more about marketing.

    1. 1. Talk to @Skropp about McDonalds, he’ll tell you not to go there.
      2. I’ve found out that most things that irritate me take no more than 30 seconds (waiting for an elevator or a traffic light to turn…)


      1. And I have tried to look at those moments to be the exact reminder I need to give thanks for having the time to learn and grow and wonder at why I find them irritating at all anyway. I find if I look at them in a different way, I feel differently about them. (like the red light gave me time to enjoy the sunset, or the slow driver made me miss hitting that deer family)- things that I think I should be annoyed at I find being thankful for. Then the next time I am slower to be annoyed because I trust it happens for a reason I may not see but it is for my benefit.

    2. I look forward to it, too. As for mastering it, that’s hard because tools are always changing but what doesn’t change much are the basics of being people, such as need to trust, have rapport, and find value before acting. Entrepreneurs need to center themselves on that and then apply ideas and tools.This is a timeless way to do marketing.

  12. Great clarification, Joel. We have to understand the role of Social Media, because it can easily become the main focus. And I still am holding out against FB – it is hard enough already to not spend hours just on this blog and all its links!

    1. Thanks, Jana! It’s important to remember, social media is a tool. It can be used in so many ways. What I outlined here is one of the best ways but there are more.

  13. Thanks for the explanation, I understood the value of social media but I have struggled understanding how to measure the value.

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