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?
Yes, 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,