Social media marketing is on its way out.
Yep, I said it.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Rebecca Lieb said it first. I don’t mean it’s dead – I mean it’s not the end all be all (and let’s be honest here, it never really was) of marketing.
Measuring real value for social media is difficult. I’m going to quote Scott Stratten on this one,
"We hold social media to a higher level of judgement than most things in business… Your Yellow Pages Ad, Direct Mail pieces and Tradeshow Booth. If you know the exact ROI on these three, awesome. You’re ahead of the game. Most have no clue.”
Positioning vs. Engagement
Measuring the exact ROI of social media marketing is hard, if not impossible. Most brands say they can't measure the concrete value of social media. They know it's beneficial, and that social is an important part of the marketing mix, but at the end of the day, finding a specific equation that demonstrates the ROI remains elusive.
From my experience, this is completely true. The big brands I've worked on can accurately calculate complex things like Customer Lifetime Value have a tough time figuring out the best way to measure social media value. So, because we have to report something, engagement has become the de facto measurement of social success. Don’t get me wrong, engagement is great but at the end of the day it doesn’t always translate into value. You could hop onto Instagram, post pictures of cats, and get a ton of engagement but would that help your brand?
I'd like to argue that sales positioning is more important than engagement. Choosing the how and the where when it comes to social media matters more to the bottom line than how many likes or comments you get. To demonstrate the point, let's look at the girl scouts.
The Tale of Two Girl Scouts
Earlier this year, an enterprising Girl Scout set-up her stand in front of a medical marijuana dispensary and sold 117 boxes in two hours! How’s that for positioning?
Let's compare her to another Girl Scout near my office. This Girl Scout set-up shop at a busy three way stop with a big sign that says "HONK IF YOU LOVE GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!" She got a lot of honks and waves, and a lot of eyeballs on her product – basically, she received a lot of engagement.
Here’s the problem: she wasn't positioned to translate this engagement to the bottom line. She chose to have a table at a three way stop where you would have to stop traffic if you wanted to buy any cookies. There was no place to pull over or park to get out and buy. While I have no idea how many cookies she sold I’m pretty sure it was nowhere near what the other Girl Scout sold. That’s when it hit me. These two Girl Scouts represent what’s wrong (and right) about social media.
The first Girl Scout positioned herself in the right place at the right time. Let’s face it, Girl Scout cookies probably sound like an excellent cure for "the munchies". People coming out of a marijuana dispensary are positioned to where they don't just want to engage, they want to buy!
The second Girl Scout positioned herself in the wrong place. The cars driving by weren’t in a position to buy her product, they were in a position to drive their car, stop at the stop sign and keep going. They were positioned to keep the flow of traffic moving!
It’s the same with social media. You can tweet, post and pin to your heart’s content but if you’re not on the right platform then you’re wasting your time. If you’re not positioning your brand based on buyer behavior, you’re missing huge opportunities.
When Positioning Works Well
The beauty of social media (and yes, I still think it’s a great marketing tool) is that when you DO position yourself on the right platform at the right time, you can have real impact and show true value. Let me give you two examples:
Worldwide 101 Uses Social Listening for Sales Success
I often work until the late hours of the night because my brain decides it wants to pump out great ideas at weird hours. So I was feeling exhausted, getting ready for bed and sent out a tweet. One of my friends suggested I find a Virtual Assistant, but I had no idea how to find one. Luckily, Worldwide 101, a company that specializes in providing highly competent VAs reached out within just a few minutes of me posting my question. By doing a little social listening – at a late hour of the night they positioned themselves at the right time. I was shouting for help and they offered a solution! And guess what? I use their service now and love working with my VA, Becky.
Show Up at the Same Time as Your Audience
Here’s another example. I used to be the content strategist behind a major media outlet. We were on social media channels but were having a difficult time measuring the value. Engagement didn't mean much if we couldn't prove that social made a difference to the bottom line. When we looked at the program, we noticed a huge discrepancy. All of our community worked 9am-5pm, but people interacted with the product in the evening. We eventually convinced the company to allow our community managers to work from home so that they could work after 5pm – when our target audience was both online and using our product. Our sales went up and our level of customer service increased. Why? Because we positioned ourselves on the right platforms at the right time.
Make Sure Your Engagement Means Something
Social media isn’t the end all be all of marketing. You will find that as a marketing tool, it is becoming increasingly harder to show value and reach your audience. However, if you stop focusing on engagement and start focusing on where your audience is and how you will engage with them when they are positioned to buy then you’ve got something. Start listening and you’ll find your social media efforts to be more focused and more valuable.
So tell me, which Girl Scout are you? Have you positioned yourself on the right platform at the right time or have you set-up shop in a place that get’s your brand a ton of engagement but no conversion? Also, how many people really want a Girl Scout cookie right now?