In social media’s early phase, marketers primarily focused on increasing fans, then engaging those fans, using a mix of “content and conversation.” While content and conversation are great at building loyalty and mind share, social marketers are learning that they are not as great at increasing revenue and market share.
Along the way, many of us have invested in dedicated resources and tools to help manage our social efforts. But as these investments have grown, inevitable questions about returns have arisen, and for many, quantifying value has been elusive. Why? Because there is a hole in the social media marketing funnel.
There are three major issues causing this chasm. Digital marketing and e-commerce teams need to face these issues to begin achieving quantifiable results we can all be proud of.
- The consideration gap.We’re doing a great job at the top of the funnel, where awareness and brand engagement are the objectives. Content and conversation posts work well up there. When we use more advanced tactics such as engagement applications, we’re going a bit further down the path to purchase, but because we’re not integrating products, we’re unable to drive discovery or progress toward consideration and purchase. While brand work is fun and important, a sole focus on brand creates a consideration gap because an essential piece of the puzzle is missing. In traditional digital marketing, we use ad banners, search and e-mail to drive customers to our e-commerce stores. Over time, we realized that context mattered, so we began to focus on landing pages and optimization. We learned that customers need a “transitional experience” between an ad and a purchase and that driving directly to standard detail pages, for example, wasn’t as effective.When social marketers, on the other hand, implement a product-focused strategy, we see a different set of steps than we’re used to. Starting with rich posts across social networks meant to drive sharing or discovery, we drive traffic to branded product experiences that drive participation, amplification and, ultimately, consideration and enable social customers to easily buy, moving them down the path to purchase.
- The limits of social media management. The job of the social media manager has become widespread. Some brands are even starting to create dedicated social teams with social executives. For many, the job includes responsibilities including customer support, community moderation, social media monitoring, marketing and optimization. On top of all that, we’re expected to integrate complex marketing programs “into” social, post to every social network on the planet, create content, and gather and report results. People responsible for promoting and selling products using social media are spread thin. Bringing a focus on selling products into our social strategies will require a more disciplined and focused set of resources and tools, as well as tight integration with digital, e-commerce and other teams.
- The limitations of tools and expertise. As content and conversation became our primary focus, an ecosystem of tools and expertise emerged to further that goal. These solutions have grown up incredibly fast, and there are great options for management and measurement at many levels. This is exciting, as it illustrates how important social has become for business. As our efforts expand toward sales, a similar tool set and set of expertise must be purpose-built around promoting and selling products.
Marko Z Muellner is senior director of marketing at ShopIgniter and has been a digital marketer for more than 18 years. He has spent his time learning how digital marketing is applied at nonprofits, international digital agencies, dot-com startups, global sportswear and beer companies, and a top-tier Web analytics and optimization company. He can be reached at via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter @markozm.