Social media is all the rage in marketing right now. It has started many companies who specialize in helping businesses make sense of this new world. Many claim they know how to help you succeed in the online and social media game. Some even trumpet that you don’t need anything else but social media and SEO. The problem is many of these types of “digital” firms don’t even know the core basics of marketing and many more don’t really know how social media translates to the bottom line.
Having a huge amount of friends and followers is great for the ego, but is that really the metric of success? Maybe, but usually not. Marketers demand traditional marketing deliver bottom line results. Because they can’t get metrics as detailed as the web offers them, they believe that their TV, outdoor, print, etc. isn’t as effective. On the other hand, they give social media a pass on generating revenue and profits.The ironic thing about this line of thought is many aren’t sure about what to measure for their ROI, but are willing to spend more on social media. In a new report from the World Federation of Advertisers, only 23% are convinced they were getting a good return on their social media investment, 18% are average, and 9% believe they are getting poor ROI. That means 77% are getting much less than they expected from their social media investment. Could some of this be contributed to the fact that many marketers don’t have a good social media strategy or don’t really know “how to do it”? Yes. But, many of these respondents are companies who can afford to pour resources into developing great strategies and getting top talent to run them.
Knowing what numbers to track is more important than tracking everything. Just because you can track it doesn’t mean you should base your success on it. Just getting site hits, collecting friends, and amassing followers isn’t good business. Eventually, you are going to have to tie it back to real business goals. Too many social media companies don’t really know how to do this because many don’t know basic business. Cash is king. Sales keeps your business alive. Just giving away everything without a strategy to loop it back into real dollar sales isn’t a good business model.
The main point is to understand that your social media numbers are not the goal, it is a means to an end. That’s where many digital companies and marketers fail at. They don’t know how to close the loop. They assume your armies of friends and followers will actually spend money with you. And, too many marketers don’t hold social media to the same standards they hold traditional media to. It’s not okay for an advertising campaign to not deliver a spike in sales, but it’s ok for their social media campaign to gather thousands of facebook friends, but no real return in revenue. You need both, hard-core advertising that drives sales and a social media strategy that keeps clients engaged and interacting with your brand. In reality, the distinction between the two is becoming less and less. If a print ad with a QR tag invites a viewer to take a picture of it, text it to 12345, and they get back a cool video that invites them to go to a microsite, play a fun game, and if they “like” them on facebook, they get a discount, is that traditional marketing or social media that gets the credit?
In the end, social media and traditional marketing, if done right, is one in the same. And when it comes down to social media, should’t that be held to the same standards that you hold other marketing efforts to? Effective social media is tied to real business goals, otherwise, all you’re doing is feeding your ego.