Here’s a familiar scenario with many companies that have tactically approached social media marketing: “Let’s stop wasting time with this social media mumbo jumbo. We need to increase sales, grow revenue and sign up more customers!”.
On the other end of the spectrum you might hear, “Social media marketing is too difficult to measure, it’s early days. So let’s keep investing and eventually we’ll be able to see our return.” Neither attitude has the best long term interests of the business in mind.
Clearly there are few businesses that don’t want to increase sales and conversions, but is a singular focus on revenue, especially in today’s world of connected consumers, actually helping bottom line business results or creating a longer term disadvantage? Alternatively, is the absence of focus on revenue with social media marketing a responsible and accountable approach to the investment?
Winning battles without also winning hearts and minds can lose the war.
Increased transactions and revenue alone are not enough to scale competitive advantage. Investment in prospect, community and customer engagement are also essential, even if they don’t directly generate sales. Investment in digital marketing innovation that keeps pace with shifts in technology and how consumers use digital communication channels to discover, consume and engage with content is essential to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage, especially when both the direct and indirect impact on revenue is being optimized.
Some revenue-only driven marketers will see the progress their social media savvy competitors are making with industry buzz and move towards a social media marketing effort, but it’s often superficial or more mechanical than meaningful. Increasing fans, friends and followers does not automatically equate to more sales or qualitative engagement.
Meaningful social engagement between companies and the communities of prospects, customers, partners, employees and industry media can act as a force multiplier towards gaining market share and improving business outcomes all along the customer lifecycle of engagement from attention to transaction to advocacy.
There are a number of obstacles to qualitative social media adoption within organizations and a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit and PulsePoint Group reveals the most common barriers include the inability to prove ROI. I think John Bell from Social@Ogilvy offers a great response to that:
“Don’t let ROI hunger kill innovation. ROI and budget are also a leadership issue. While arriving at ROI measures are important to managing business, they are hard to do in a space where we are all still innovating and proving models valid. Leaders need to guide organizations to be responsible about value without being too ruthless on ROI in the near term lest they kill innovation.”
There is no question marketing needs to be accountable to sales and revenue. At the same time, the direct and indirect impact of effective, meaningful and scalable social media marketing efforts must be considered in that accountability, not just the short term wins. Limiting investment solely to those activities that directly impact customer acquisition and sales leaves a lot of mindshare, awareness and collective brand equity on the table for competitors to take and turn into scalable revenue in the future.
What are your roadblocks to broader and more meaningful social media adoption within your company? Which end of the spectrum do you fall? Pure ROI or Pure Engagement? Somewhere in between?