It's 2013. We've been working on this thing called social media for about five or six years now. As marketers and as business owners, we're not only wrapping our heads around the infinite engagement possibilities, we're also finally beginning to possess the tools that allow us to gather real data about the value of our efforts.
And yet...the greatest majority of companies I speak to or work with still come to the table with wide-eyed excitement at the idea of building a strategy that will increase the number of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Pinterest followers, (I could go on, but the list will get long...you get my drift) they have. The sad thing is, so many of them are missing the point and they don't even realize it.
Social Media IS Gaining Credibility
On many fronts, the world of social media marketing has made some dramatic steps forward. I can think of a great deal of social media strategies who have established themselves on the basis of their ability help companies both define and reach actionable goals through the medium. From the corporate side, more and more companies are finally understanding the value of hiring social media firms, or building in-house teams to handle this ever changing part of their marketing efforts.
Social Media Still Hasn't Reached Its Full Potential
The problem lies with the still astonishingly large number of marketers and companies who are so enamored with the idea of building followers and gathering likes. These individuals are so focused on the "social media" goal they completely and totally forget about the business goal. They grab on to these easy numbers and hold on to them as if their very marketing budgets depended on them.
This is the mindset that continues to hold social media back from its full potential.
Ask yourself: What goals have you set for your social media team this year?
If the answer focuses more heavily on the number of links, likes, followers, retweets or even mentions your brand receives, you're missing the boat. While those numbers DO matter in the grand scheme of things, they matter very little unless viewed in the right context. Those numbers should be stepping stones that help you reach larger goals. Those numbers need to be part of the micro-tracking you do to make sure the strategy you've put in place to help you reach your business goals is on the right track.
You Need to Make Sure Your Social Media Goals are Solid
Don't let these "supposed" social media goals get in the way of the more important picture. Make absolute certain your social media team not only understands your current business goals, but is carefully thinking through a strategy to help you reach them. Whether you're focused on increasing the average order size for your e-commerce site, using social media to drive more walk-in business to a retail location or even cutting call center costs by handling more customer service issues via the web, social media can (and SHOULD) be used to aid in those ventures.
If you aren't 100% certain of what your social media team is working on right now and why, schedule time to sit down with them and have a chat. Ask them what their top goals are for the coming quarter and make sure those goals align properly with the goals of the business. Make sure your social media efforts are less about face value numbers and more about bottom line improvements.
Jennifer Cario is the Editor in Chief of Search Engine Guide and the President of SugarSpun Marketing, a boutique social media agency specializing in social media strategy for small to mid size businesses. She is also a well respected trainer and serves as the Social Media Faculty chair for MarketMotive and as an Adjunct Professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA program. She's based near Pittsburgh, PA but serves clients across the United States and Canada.
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