Using social media as a sales tool

Posted & filed under Advertising, Branding, Social Media, Video.

Social_Media_as_a_sales_toolI recently read an interesting take on why social media marketers are having a tough time using social media as a sales tool.

The author says there is a “hole” in the social-media marketing funnel, leaving questions about how to calculate return on a social media campaign. He goes on to state that while marketers are (for the most part) doing well at the top of the funnel (promoting awareness and engagement), this may not be enough to increase the bottom line.

I’m not sure I agree.

Social media, by its nature, is a social activity. I like to think of a business’s blog or Facebook page not as a store, but as an after-hours cocktail party. Does a person want to be sold to when attending a party?

Think about it this way: When you are on Facebook, what are you there to do? Chances are you’re not shopping for new widgets or an insurance agent.

The author states, “While brand work is fun and important, a sole focus on brand creates a consideration gap because an essential piece of the puzzle is missing. In traditional digital marketing, we use ad banners, search and e-mail to drive customers to our e-commerce stores.”

I would argue that social media is a different animal than traditional digital marketing, and it has different goals. Rather than a being a puzzle that is missing a piece, it’s an essential piece of a larger puzzle – a marketing plan.

It’s not (thankfully) designed like a traditional digital marketing tool. Whereas banner ads, PPC ads and email are set up to target (and track) someone shopping, social media marketing says, “Hello, tell us about you, here are some cool things we think you’ll like…” It doesn’t push. It’s made to accomplish those very things the author says we are accomplishing – awareness and engagement.

And who says awareness and engagement aren’t enough to push the bottom line? Isn’t that what much of marketing is all about? When a company puts up a sign, its purpose is to increase awareness. When it asks you a question on Twitter, it wants to engage you in conversation. Do these efforts lead directly to a sale? Maybe, maybe not.

But if you’re answering questions, looking at photos or watching videos on Coca Cola’s Facebook page, you’re not thinking about Pepsi.

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