A recent article questioned whether social media is producing business leads. It has been suggested that “looking at social media services like Twitter and Facebook strictly as lead generation tools might be counter-productive, especially for companies that focus on business-to-business sales”.
At Omni, we like to refer to clients’ marketing programs as their ‘tool box’. There are many tools you can use, but just as you would not use a hammer when a screwdriver is needed, neither do all marketing tools work for all clients or all situation.
You have to determine what each tool is used for and what result you want from it. And you have to understand how the tools work – there is passive marketing and aggressive marketing. Some marketing simply creates under the radar buzz (a poster in your store’s window), some marketing efforts shout at you (TV or Radio Ads), some just want to be friends (Facebook).
Know what you want to achieve, what is possible with the media you have chosen to deliver the message, and how you want your target audience to react. But then there is that measurement issue… senior decision makers want to know if the dollars going out translate into dollars coming in to the company – ROI.
With a specific time-sensitive event, such as a clearance sale this weekend only, you can measure the effectiveness of your advertising by how many people visit your store and asking them how they heard about the sale. That is an easy way to measure, although not 100% accurate – many times it is the layering effect of multiple media channels and the one that is recalled may just have been the last one seen. Most marketers would cringe to hear the reason a customer came in was because of the giant inflatable monster at the store entrance!
But social media is different. First you have to accept social media is not a direct means to simply sell – it is designed to create a conversation and become a brand builder for your organization. It is an ideal way to show your service to customers. Ultimately, those actions will reap benefits, much like the top-notch greeter or receptionist who makes every visitor feel like royalty. Those are marketing moments you can build on that are part of the toolbox, but they are not the only tool.
Social media is not the same as traditional forms of marketing; the process for engagement and contact is different. But, it still is highly valuable in how it can develop new opportunities and new loyal customers, it just takes time.
If you use social media with the expectation of making a sale or generating a qualified direct lead, it can seem counter-productive. However, if you understand how to fold social media into a marketing toolbox and use this tool for the specific purpose of creating a connection with your customers, it will build your foundation and your brand.