I really like Social Media Examiner. Founder Michael Stelzner and his team create tons of outstanding content. Weighed carefully, the insights can be invaluable for any professional working in social media.
The problem is that social media is only one of many tools that small businesses can use to generate more leads and sales. Nurturing an e-mail database is a must. Creating and updating a reasonable web site is essential. You can always dive into paid search, SEO and link building as well. Where are you hunting for that next customer online?
Social Media Examiner just released the "2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report," a comprehensive resource with 50 pages of analysis and charts based on a study of 2,800 marketers.
Get the social media study.
But I think it's a good time to wave the caution flag because marketers and small business owners can get caught up with the excitement of social media without thinking through whether it's a good fit given their resources and priorities.
It doesn't mean I have a problem with the study. I don't. I love studies because they provide a picture. Combine a few of them and the picture gets a little fuzzy. But generally, you can get a feel for legitimate trends.
For example, according to the latest study, 92% of marketers say social media is important to their business. That's great. I just wonder what kind of commitment they're making (or the owners are making) to social media. By commitment, I mean time and money. Are they really engaging with others or just sharing promotional information? Do the businesses really have a social media strategy?
Measurement appears to be a big issue for marketers. In fact, only 37% of marketers say the are able to measure the ROI of their social media activities.
Here are some best practices and tools that can help:
How to Measure Social Media ROI
Social Media ROI: 11 FREE Tools for Measuring Social Media Success
My point is that you shouldn't just create posts and tweets. They don't all need to have a call to action -- some can be good public relations. But why not occasionally drive people to a new service, industry guide or other offering? Your social media profiles, posts and tweets should direct people to your web site. Once they see it, what's supposed to happen next? Is it easy to call your business? Do you have notable calls to actions on your web site pages?
Social media can be effective. Are you embracing it or just spinning your wheels?