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Wednesday 19th June 2024

Social Media Marketing Doesn’t Work, and Here’s Why

Branding, Marketing, networking, Social Media

Social Media Marketing Doesn’t Work, and Here’s Why

Back in 2009 at a wine tasting event I was working at I was introduced to the idea that a business could get more sales from Twitter.

I was asked how business was and I honestly answered “not great”, (something I later learnt wasn’t the thing you’re ‘supposed’ to do!).

But I said it and I listened to the advice that Twitter was the place to go to get business from the internet.

I signed up. I tweeted. I tweeted some more and… NOTHING!

It didn’t work. No one bought the wine from the warehouse I was tweeting about and I was wondering whether the advice I got was anything other than crap.

But fast forward to now, to November 2018 and I’ve generated well in excess of £500,000 from social media and I’ve had countless opportunities, experiences and life-changing experiences. I think meeting the girl of your dreams, moving towns, starting a business, and having a baby in 5 years thanks to Twitter is pretty life-changing. So how did I do it and why am I saying it doesn’t work?

The simple fact is, the way I used Twitter for three months didn’t work and the way I do it now doesn’t work.

It’s the period in between that you can learn from. But I guess, the periods either side of that bring learning too.


Three months of no sales

So the first three months ‘failed’. I spent the entire time tweeting about wine. Buy it, drink it, look at it. Look at this bottle, look at that bottle. I tried it all and failed.

So Twitter doesn’t work?

Well, not quite.

You see three months of random, unplanned, sales-driven social media posts is hardly a good test.

Three months of ignoring most of Twitter and using the ‘post’ function only instead of the other tools available isn’t a fair test.

After those three months I did something radical – I shared stories about other stuff relating to the business.


Tip one: The day –to-day activities in your business are more interesting that what you sell.


You see, I got a smartphone and then I could post from locations, backs of vans, from cellars, from pubs, and from restaurants. I could then hook up with my customers on Twitter and a strange thing happened. People started tweeting back.

It’s funny, but when you give a crap about other people, they listen.

I still didn’t sell any wine though.

Eventually I got involved in a local networking group. I say involved, I created it with two other people based on a chat on Twitter.

We ran huge meetings and got the towns locally to listen and join into the conversations as well as meet up.

This then lead to the Portas Pilot campaign where we pushed for Warwick to win money from a fund set up by Mary Portas. The resulting media attention eventually led to wining an award.

We sold a bit of wine in that time.

The annoying part of this is, I can’t tell you how much.

I bet you don’t know how many sales you get from social media either.

But getting your logo and brand on ITV, spearheading a group in a national campaign backed by the government, and getting pally with the local media can’t have hurt, right!?

Because of the silly stories and selfies and photos like THIS, we got noticed.

Actually… I got noticed too.


The moment I stopped selling and started telling, social media stopped failing

The moment I gave up on what I thought was emarketing, it worked.

The moment I stopped over-thinking what I needed to put on Twitter, people started to engage.

Of course, those first three months could simply have been a time where I gained followers and got noticed and then gained an interest from people who were simply not ready to buy, but I’ll never know.

And that’s kinda the point.


Tip two: Your audience might not be buying because they’re not ready to buy.
That doesn’t mean you should stop; it means you need to keep going.


What I learnt more than anything is that social media is… well… it’s social. The clue’s in the title. The social part of it is actually important.

The stories, the crazy stuff, and the interactions and conversations are far more powerful than the link to the website or the promo you’re running.

You need to sell, you need to promote and I do… but you need to keep your followers with you on for the ride using the social stuff.

So why doesn’t Twitter work for me now?

Because I moved on. I spend more time on LinkedIn and Facebook Groups now.

Facebook pages (without ads) and Twitter just don’t do it for me now. But that’s not because they don’t work.

You see, it’s the same as the early days of social media marketing for me:

You get out what you put in.

Both Twitter and Facebook pages work when you work at them. When you work on them. When you take the time to engage with other content and spend time sharing interesting, useful, entertaining and memorable content they still work for you.

But there’s one thing that I’ve learnt over these years that you really need to know.

Social media always looks like it could work and then doesn’t until the moment you’re about to give up on it.

It’s the momentum, the energy, the focus, the belief and the humanisation of the platforms and the dogged determination to keep on documenting that works.


Tip three: social media doesn’t give you the ability to hack human behaviour and speed it up.  


The fact is, we all take our merry little time to decide what we buy and who from.

During that time your job as a marketer is to keep them amused, entertained, educated, engaged, talking, and remembering you.

I left the van and the wine warehouse back in the summer of 2013… I’m still getting leads and sales now. They’re for my current business and that’s because of one very important factor that most marketing seems to miss.

People buy from ME, not from my COMPANY.

When you think about it, the word company describes a human need. Don’t forget that. When it comes to small business, humans buy from humans, not buildings, systems, keyboards, or glass tablets in your pocket.

I’m still getting sales and referrals from people I met on Twitter way back in 2010 and I’m even selling to people from my Facebook who I first met before Google and Facebook were even invented.


Your social media is a storytelling tool…

It’s a listening tool. It’s a search tool. It’s a security camera, live webcam, backdoor to your business story.

It’s then that it becomes a sales tool.

Back in 2009 I was told Twitter was the tool to get more sales at a wine tasting.

The wine merchant was right, but I only heard what I wanted to hear.

Twitter. Sales.

In between those two words are often 1,000s of conversations, shares, posts, photos and videos and of course timings that suited, merged with trust.

Social media marketing doesn’t work when you ignore the reason social media exists – to connect PEOPLE.

At a networking event in Warwick, created from a conversation, I realised that.

My mission since then is to help you realise it. It’s my gift to you that I keep on giving 😉

SOCIAL Media Todd.

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