What is the Marketing Purpose Behind Social Media?



The use of Social Media in the business environment has been a hot topic for a few years now.  I have been on several interviews over the past few months and, invariably, I am asked my opinion on how I would use Social Media in the position I am interviewing for or what my experience is with Social Media.  How can I help the company acquire new customers using Social Media?  The short answer is that there is no short answer to that question.   While I am an advocate of Social Media in business marketing, I think too many companies are putting too much emphasis on how Social Media can increase sales.

Coke, for example, is one of the most iconic brands in the world.  They boast over 62 million likes on their Facebook page and have 700,000 followers on their Twitter feed.  All very impressive numbers but are they making money?  According to Eric Schmidt, Coca-Cola’s senior manager of marketing strategy and insights: “We didn’t see any statistically significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales.”

As a seasoned marketer and advocate of “integrated marketing communications”, companies need to understand that Social Media is only one tool in their marketing arsenal but should not be seen as a major driver of sales or leads.

When I look at all the tools I can use to market a product, I look at branding tools and direct response, sales driving tools.  Used together they enhance your brand and generate the awareness you need to get into the consideration set in the sales funnel.

I consider Social Media as a branding tool.  It keeps your brand in front of your targeted audience in a manner that allows them to engage in a conversation at a time of their choosing.  Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a WordPress blog, they enable companies to efficiently extend their brand presence in conjunction with their other marketing efforts.  I haven’t met many people that saw a Tweet from Coke and then ran out and bought a case of Coke but I do know people who have posted a Coke commercial that was re-posted so others could share in the experience.

My point is that marketers and companies should not over think what various media channels can do for them.  They all need to work together.

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