Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Lets get real. An abundance of companies are posting and tweeting and still don’t know how it contributes (or doesn’t) to their business. Further more, they are not sure what success would be like if it bit them … well you know the rest of that line.

Social marketing must be understood if it has any chance of helping your business. And I am still amazed at how many people are looking for the wrong results social marketing yields.

This past week it was widely reported that social media does not lead to sales. In fact a Bjloomberg headline even stated “Social Media’s Diminished Impact on Business” and covered a study from Scott Galloway, Marketing Professor at NYU Stern School of Business. Now I have always thought Prof. Galloway was a leader of social media information. I have been impressed with the activities of his L2 Think Tank that helps “brands navigate and influence the changing digital landscape.” But focusing social marketing on sales results is flawed.

I have worked with a number of brands in the past six years on digital marketing strategies and plans and my response is the same as day one working on social marketing strategies.

1) Social media is not good for direct sales.
2) Social media is great for business.

How can I so adamantly say both of these things in back to back points?

why social marketingYes, sales are the most important metric in business, but business leaders need to recognize that there are complex and numerous stages that lead to a sale. There are also very important post-sale stages and activities that define sustained sales. And the pre- and post-sale activities and metrics are the strengths of social marketing. I have previously covered social relevance and importance of pre-sale metrics awareness and consideration, and post-sale loyalty and advocacy.

In another interesting report this week, eMarketer revealed that for social marketing, “engagement is the primary metric, used by 23.3% of respondents. However, measuring increased sales was still high on the list, pointing to the fact that some marketers still expect to get a dollar conversion out of their social efforts.” While it is nice to see that marketers recognize the importance of “engagement,” they need to take social marketing one step further and relate engagement to business KPIs. Thus the approach of measuring awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy should be considered as these attributes tee up sales.

Marketers need to stop assessing social marketing as a last click sales enabler. Successful social marketing conditions the right target audience behavior to create brand preference teeing up sales and creating post sales loyalty and advocacy. Social marketing must be integrated in other digital marketing efforts that produce sales. Social marketing is not the end all for marketing success. It is an important aspect that needs to be integrated into a holistic marketing strategy and plan.

Be smart – don’t aim for sales in social marketing. Understand social’s role in shaping your target audiences brand preference and behavior. For more detail see “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.”

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



Filed under digital media, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

13 responses to “Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

  1. I agree with your analogy that Social Media does not have an immediate impact on sales, but it’s crucial to building the top of the funnel, especially in Awareness/Consideration. Think about it, if I hear through social media about a cool new phone (Awareness), I might check out what other people are saying about the phone in blogs/review sites (Consideration). Furthermore I might leverage their experience to decide the features that are important (Preference). While I don’t don’t make the purchase on a social media site (not just yet), I might advocate if I feel it’s important for my network (Looks great on paper, but not reality)

    Successful Social Marketers need to view social media as a channel, not the entire strategy

    • Derek – definitely agree with you, but also make sure you address post sale loyalty and advocacy opportunities in social marketing.

      • Interesting that we “excuse” the inability to effectively measure social media impact on sales yet it is the biggest criticism of traditional (awareness building) media like TV; especially among those most closely tied to the digital marketing world.

  2. Great post and links, thanks Steve. I totally agree with you and Derek above. In my experience, it also depends very much on the product(s), the company and HOW that company is doing its social media. I have had great success with direct sales on social media for some companies. With others, its about getting the word out through social sites, and then driving them back to the website or the brick and mortor store. Social has become a very important link in the marketing/sales chain, not to be ignored, but I think the right expectations and ROI must be set and understood correctly.

    • Would love great examples of direct sales with social and what else the given brand is doing on social as well as as sales. The only example of pure direct sales that I have seen with success is Dell.

  3. “Social marketing must be integrated in other digital marketing efforts that produce sales. Social marketing is not the end all for marketing success. It is an important aspect that needs to be integrated into a holistic marketing strategy and plan. ”

    100% agree and have been agreeing since the time I fount out what social media marketing even was.

    It’s like dude, spamming your link to someone and saying buy this isn’t the way to go. It’s all about creating context and building small relationships and/or making an impact in someone’s life.

    The products and services you offer will just naturally sell themselves when you’re genuinely there to help the person on the other side of the screen.

  4. Stephen

    Social is a powerful selling vehicle. If you’ve really got something to say and people are engaged in the relationship, why shouldn’t it be effective? We have found from the beginning that its primary KPI should be sales. The evidence of a productive commercial relationship (because you’re not really a “friend”) is sales. Why would anyone want a commercial relationship with a brand from whom they never buy anything?

  5. Enjoyed reading the article and comments. There’s a lot of evidence that sales grow when people come back for more and tell their friends but the advocacy must be unprompted. Spend on social media will not produce any ROI if the underlying product experience does not bring you back for more or make you willing to tell friends. If your experience is great then you will hit facebook et al and get the advocacy ball rolling. The manufacturer should keep out of the conversation unless asked to contribute. For what it’s worth my experience of MBT trainers has been consistently terrific and I tell everyone about them for nothing. They are getting their ROI from product experience by making a great training shoe. Hope this adds to the debate and doesn’t spoil the party for agencies selling social media services.

    • Peter,

      Thanks for chiming in. I would highlight that social marketing should add to the customer experience as an extension of product. Therefore these acts increase loyalty and motivate advocacy without directly requesting it.


  6. Steve Jobs didn’t use social marketing.

  7. Solid article on utilizing Social. I’m reminded of years (long) past when I was asked the question, “Yes, but can you show me ROI if I pay a PR firm?” The correlation of sales and Social isn’t a straight line; it’s a dashed zig-zag that will, indeed, help you arrive at more business via a better brand.

  8. Pingback: Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway? - Finkk Marketing

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