When we receive inquiries from organizations, we ask them about their goals for social media. Most tell us their goal is to increase sales. We then talk with them about the difference between a goal and an outcome - money is an outcome, not a goal. Experience has shown that a more realistic goal for organizations who want sales could be lead generation.
However, the approach to acquiring leads is where it often gets murky.
– Social Media = Building Relationships
– Advertising on Social Media = Sales
I’ve advocated that social media success comes down to alignment. A company that wants to actualize results from social media marketing must align their efforts with the values of the business and solidify their commitment to relationships.
If we built a marketing funnel for social media, it would look like the diagram below. I see too many businesses who want to jump right to the leads and bypass the other steps. The audience has no desire to download your e-book until they know who you are and they like what they see. It’s the same know, like, and trust factor that’s been the sales slogan of the past decade.
Bottom line: People are focused on the wrong things. Improper focus leads to inaccurate measurement and ineffective steps to correct it. As a result, the conclusion is that social media doesn’t work.
I’m amazed by the number of companies that are flailing around in this space with no clear understanding of where they are going or how to get there. When I examine the root of this issue, the following culprits are at play:
- Box checking – the board said it’s time to get social, so pick someone to do it
- Flawed theories – some are misinformed about social media, but most are under-informed
- Bandwagon leaps – another person or business was successful with social media, so let’s do it
- Bragging rights – let’s look cool and get on Snapchat
This is why it’s not only vital to have a social media strategy but to also have one that aligns with the organization’s values. Most profitable businesses have values at the heart of their company. It’s those values that empower their team and drive their business growth. Yet, when I look at businesses who employ social media, it’s infrequent they emulate these values online, especially with customer service. If service is a value to your organization, you need to respond to your audience online.
The other caveat is that it’s not an overnight process. Social media marketing is relationship-building… and relationships take time. When was the last time you built immediate trust? Did you give someone the key to your house upon meeting them at the dog park? Put Mom in a home before seeing the facility? Just because someone ‘liked’ your page or accepted your LinkedIn request, does not invite you to hound them to the sale. Relationship marketing is a long game.
If the goal for social media is to acquire sales, you might be better suited with a goal of lead generation. However, lead generation via organic social media must be done in alignment with the business values while maintaining a commitment to relationships. There is no way to accelerate or short-cut trust. If you find social media is failing your organization, I urge you to go back and find the root of the issue.