Social media replaces nothing, yet complements everything

Social media isn't the answer to all your problems, but if you follow a plan, you can amplify your message and make your presence felt online.
18 April 2018

Don’t throw away your sales and marketing infrastructure because of the rise of social media. Source: Shutterstock

A s a social media speaker, I get asked what I believe are bizarre questions from executives and businesspeople who see the new platforms alone as something of a savior for their business. “If only we can get influencers to talk about us, we can meet our growth goals,” is a common comment I hear these days.

Social media is merely a communication channel. With the democratization of information, channel users do have more influence when compared to the past – a subject for a future article and my next book The Business of Influence – but you’re not going to throw away your sales and marketing infrastructure because of Twitter.

For instance, your website is more important than ever. For consumer-facing brands, where are consumers going to buy your product? For many, it will be through their own e-commerce store and for others it will be through retail outlets: hoping to influence a purchasing decision by showcasing their brand in more depth on their own website.

This is even more important for B2B businesses. Despite my robust activity on several social platforms, search engines such as Google send an overwhelming majority of website traffic to my digital properties. Social media plays a role in helping to attract users to my content, but at the end of the day, website content is what drives both search engine AND SM traffic.

Social media is also – for better or worse – an amplifier of your message. If your product is not good to begin with, amplifying your message on SM platforms might alert more to users your presence, but it won’t improve your product.

The same goes for your customer service. I blogged some time ago asking if your customer service is ready for social media. That post was a case study of a famous international airline reaching out to me as an influencer to offer me a free flight. Yet when I followed their instructions and contacted customer service, they knew nothing about the influencer outreach program and thus I had an unintentionally negative customer experience.

Don’t get me wrong: social media has tremendous benefits for any given company in any given industry, but it will only work for you when you have the mindset that it replaces nothing, yet complements everything. As I wrote in my book, Maximize Your Social, any SM initiative must follow this path for success:

  • The existence of corporate strategy objectives
  • The mapping of what is possible in social media to see how it might complement the reaching of those strategic objectives. This is not limited to just the sales and marketing function
  • The confirmation of KPIs or measurement methods to ensure corporate strategy objectives are being met
  • Translating those KPIs into social media
  • Developing a complete social media strategy and executing and optimizing it over time using the Deming Circle method of P (Plan) – D (Do) – C (Check) – A (Action – or optimization).

Don’t force your organization to adopt new SM platforms simply for the sake of it. Find areas where resource spend can be better optimized and start to shift that budget into social media, then compare how it does with your other methods. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results, and if you are not, you need to re-visit your assumptions vis a vis what your chosen platforms can do for you.