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3 Reasons You're Not Seeing Tangible ROI With Your Social Media Efforts Not telling your brand story, posting inconsistently and missing out on paid advertising opportunities could sink your brand.

By Colton Bollinger

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Busakorn Pongparnit | Getty Images

Today, according to Statista, some 22 percent of the world's population is on Facebook, and a whopping 93 percent of Pinterest users are reaching for their credit cards to make online purchases.

When people hear these numbers, they don't wait long before they too dive in head-long, eager to have their own slice of the huge pie. Typically, they open one social media account after another, in the hopes that one or two platforms will somehow convert and compensate for their overall investment of time and money.

Related: The ROI of Social Media (Infographic)

But is "the more the merrier" approach delivering the desired social media returns?

Social media success has little to do with the number of profiles you have, the photos you like or the people you follow -- just as the success of your dating life isn't based on how many Tinder profiles you swipe right on. With so much content out there and just so much time in the day, the mindshare of the consumer is becoming more and more competitive among brands.

It is no longer just a numbers game. Quality over quantity will win every time, which all comes down to your content and how you make it resonate with your target audience. So, create content you know your audience wants to see on their feeds. It's not about you or your company; it's about them.

How an online product could be the focus of a "share-able" joke

Just as happens in real life in our efforts to meet that special someone, most of us also go on a blind date with social media: We settle for the "one-night stand" of a few likes and reciprocated follows, then hope to find true love with great returns.

Related: 15 Ways to Get More ROI From Social Media This Month

But true social media success stories are not developed over a night. They are built with strong foundations and strategies in place for sustainable, value-adding content creation that engages with target audiences. Imagine how much more successful you could be on those blind dates if you had your date's entire life history pulled up in front of you to stir conversation, instead of awkwardly sitting there for half the night twiddling your thumbs.

In today's world, you don't step into the batter's box hoping to hit a home run, you step in with a strategy based on the limitless data at your fingertips, expecting to hit one. Successful content opportunities don't just pop out of thin air into your lap, they are facilitated. If you take the time to understand not only who your target audience members are, but their correlated interests and passions, you'll be on your way to effectively preparing a unique content-creation strategy that will lead you to those returns on social everyone is buzzing about.

So, if you're not seeing enough returns on your social media efforts, here are three possible reasons why:

1. Not telling your brand story

Stories are powerful, because they engage the mind. If well-scripted, they can attract visitors to your product or service, engage their emotions and get them doing exactly what you want -- without being salesy or downright "in your face."

If you sell umbrellas, for instance, you could post a picture of your product and say, "Buy this umbrella now." But no one would like that post. However, what if you took a picture of a man opening an umbrella for his date and helping her out of her car? You'd be telling a story that aligns with your product in a way the consumer can relate to: "This month's forecast calls for rain, and lots of it … and as our fathers used to say, 'Always keep protection handy in your car; you never know when you might need to use it, but she'll appreciate it.'"

Without directly asking people to buy your umbrella, the picture you paint with words generates the feeling of desire for the umbrella. If you're targeting single men, they'll chuckle at the witty spin on sexual protection and put themselves in the situation most have been in when their date asks, "Do you have an umbrella?" And because the answer is typically "no," next thing, they'll be clicking "Purchase" and sharing the joke with friends.

The message? Compelling, brand-optimized stories that your target audience can relate to are key.

A brand that does this well: Warby Parker doesn't sell just glasses, but fashionable glasses that don't break the bank, especially for the millennial generation. To do this, Warby Parker turns every post on social media into a story, and allows customers to relate and "see" themselves in the product, illustrated by this recent Instagram post showcasing the brand with kids.

A brand that's missing the mark: Lincoln Motors sorely misses the mark on its marketing, especially in telling stories. Lincoln is not always top of mind in many car-buyers' decision process, in contrast to its parent company, Ford. If class and high-end appeal are Lincoln's goals, storytelling will be how the brand reminds the market it still exists -- and let itself be a consumer's "second thought." In contrast, Ford dominates, because of how its creative team connects with consumers through social strategy efforts.

2. Not engaging consistently

Consider the expression "Out of sight, out of mind." In that context, any business with a "when I can" approach to engaging online customers will eventually see its brand buried. The reason is that even more crucial than crafting persuasive content is consistent content.

In the fast-paced social media space, you must consistently push out compelling content (by developing a content marketing strategy and sticking to it).

The message? If you post content today, then skip several days or weeks before posting the next one, your overall online engagement efforts will fail to deliver desired returns.

A brand that engages its audience consistently: Look at Wendy's Twitter feed to see how consistent the brand is in engaging with fans. These tweets are the humorous go-to source for laughs, and often get into play "fights" with other brands. All eyes are on Wendy's because it "gets" engaging consistently.

A brand that's missing the mark: American Airlines had an automatic responder go out on Twitter to all that mentioned the company. But this was a big error because many tweets looked out of place and responded to offensive messages. The automatic responder wasn't doing any favors for the brand, which clearly needed to have a real person engaging the audience.

3. Missing out on paid advertising opportunities

Captivating copy + consistent posting = successful engagement, but are you engaging the right online audience? Facebook, alone, has an impressive 2.2 billion active users daily, but that's just traffic if you're not targeting and generating the right leads (those more likely to buy from you).

Paid advertising offers a great opportunity to target your ads. For as little as $1 a day, you can advertise effectively and affordably on a platform of choice like Facebook. But 62 percent of small businesses still fail with Facebook Ads. This is because (a) the target audience isn't spending time on Facebook; (b) The business doesn't understand its audience; or (c) The business doesn't have the right hook.

Related: A Simple 3-Step Approach to Successful Social Media Advertising

Again, busineses must tell a story that gets into the heart of the audience, and tell it strategically and consistently. To do this, they should take advantage of paid ads on social media. This can result in impressive returns on ad efforts almost immediately.

The message? If you aren't continually testing new content ideas behind your ads, you will lose to a competitor who is.

A brand that does a great job with Facebook ads: One of our own advertising success stories centers around the product Gorilla Bow. With creative content, the mix of perfect targeting offered by our Facebook advertising manager together with a team making sure the product was stocked and ready to resulted in a 3.5x return on ad spend, a 350 percent increase in total sales and a 450 percent decrease in cost-per-click.

A brand missing the mark: This would be any brand on Facebook now that doesn't have an advertising budget. With Facebook's limits on your business page's reach, businesses are left with no "air space" on the Facebook feed. If you have a product or service worth sharing, then paid advertising on Facebook is a must.

Colton Bollinger

Founder, Jumper Media

Colton Bollinger is the CEO of Jumper Media, which he founded in 2016 to help small businesses tell amazing brand stories on social media -- all day, every day. He brought on two other business-savvy leaders (also long-time friends) after seeing how most small businesses struggle to attract, engage and convert their audiences effectively on social. Today, using cutting-edge social tools and resources, Jumper Media helps over 3,000 businesses (of all shapes and sizes) connect with their target customers predictably and consistently.

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