Have you ever noticed how common it is for every one to compare social media to just about anything else? Social media vs traditional media. Social media vs email marketing. Social media vs the website. Social media vs mobile marketing. So many marketing departments have disconnects between the various specialties because they are commonly divided into the various subgroups based on skill sets and we often see them working in silos:
- direct/traditional marketing
- email marketing
- social media marketing
- mobile marketing
- web design
- search (paid and SEO)
- analytics and measurement
I came across a survey that was published last week by Demandbase and Focus that indicated that a company’s website was the top source of all new sales leads and seven times more effective than social media. Now that statement might not seem that off to you, but taken at face value, it can cause a number of marketers to want to trash their social marketing plans or at a minimum minimize their efforts. Further more, the following quote from the survey “Social media may be heralded as the silver bullet to bring B2B marketing up to snuff but, despite its increasing influence, it’s important to keep in mind that no business sale is made without the buyer going to the corporate website first,” makes me feel like people are pitting one medium against the next. Here’s why I say that.
I read a number of B2B marketing blogs and follow B2B marketers on Twitter and have seen this survey flying around with comments indicating some sort of “fight” between the web people and the social media people. I’m sitting here scratching my head thinking, aren’t we all working together here? Aren’t your plans integrated? How did those people get to your website to convert? Isn’t that part of the plan, to drive people to your website where they can convert into a sale or lead? And by the way, do you know what the purpose of using social media is for your company? That’s my biggest question as I read the comment above from the survey, mostly because I am taking Social Media and Marketing (641) this fall. It has really highlighted the number of people who don’t understand how or why they should be using social media in their marketing plans.
One of the books we are reading is the Groundswell by Li and Bernoff. It really stresses the importance of understanding social media for your industry and target audience so you know how to use it effectively. Let me back up one sec by just giving you a brief definition of what the Groundswell is as coined by Li and Bernoff: A social trend in which people use technologies to get things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations. The very definition stresses the importance of not comparing social media to every other medium but rather figure out how to effectively integrate it into your marketing plan.
If you ever encounter someone in your organization tell you that this social media stuff just isn’t working, its a pretty good sign that no one has really done any research as to how best to use if for your company. And if they are ready to toss the effort in the garbage – run out and by the book immediately and then enroll in this course. In the meantime, I’m going to provide something I found valuable from the Groundswell: a 4-step process called POST for evaluating how to use social media;
- People: what is your target audience ready for? How does your target audience use social media currently? Knowing this well help you determine how you may engage with your target audience based on the ways they are already active.
- Objectives: what are your goals for using social media? Are you intending to use it to listen, talk, energize, support or embrace your target audience?
- Strategy: plan for how you want relationships with your customers to change.
- Technologies: now that you know how your customers use social media, what your objectives and strategy are, you can choose the technologies/tools (ex. social networks, blogs, review, videos etc) that are the most appropriate.
I hope these tips help as you evaluate or re-evaluate social media. And remember, don’t comparing social media against everything else. Integrate all of your efforts and measure everything!