As social media spending climbs almost 10 percent again this year, many in business have begun to all but abandon marketing in favor of social media management. Social media management is less costly, faster, and it requires less overall input from leadership, but it is not effective on its own.
Marketing, while it involves social media today, is more.
Marketing is the act of building trust and dialogue between the producer and the customer. This sustained relationship is helped by social media, but it is not produced by social media.
There are even marketing communications firms who promote full marketing services at a price too good to be true and then perform only social media management. This is especially vexing for CEOs who seek to grow companies. As these CEOs discover, social media management alone simply cannot deliver robust growth.
Social media management can attract customers. It may prompt an increase in inbound inquiries. Still, the marketing professionals who view brand engagement as the end of their responsibility consume too much time and cost, and they are wrong.
Too many in our end of business want a responsibility finish line. A sales representative’s responsibility temporarily ends when the customer has signed the contract and paid the invoice. A project manager’s responsibility ends when he’s completed a project and has the signoff in hand. Many departments have a defined end to their interaction with the customer, but such is simply not the case with marketing. A marketing department’s obligation to the consumer simply doesn’t end – it is a continuous process that embraces excellent customer service and cements the corporate vision for brand essence.
Social media is best used as a tool to help maintain dialogue with an existing customer and invite prospects to join the community. It’s a great way to increase message frequency. However, social media is limited. It’s too shallow a tool to contain the totality of marketing. It’s a headline, a photo caption within the brand essence catalog. Marketing requires multiple tools – traditional media, direct mail, events, and digital media, in order to reach prospects and other target audiences who haven’t stayed up-to-date with a company. Social Media, at its best, stimulates, tracks, and enhances word of mouth advertising. It is a tool to enhance marketing.
In summary, I encourage us to watch the budget percentages. Please do not be hoodwinked by marketing professionals who offer a comprehensive marketing package, and then provide social media management. Please don’t accept the movement of tight cash into social media without a solid understanding of what that shift means to the company’s true objectives. Instead, insist on a content plan, take the broader view and encourage a more conscientious advertising and sales promotion dollar spend, with your company’s interest in mind, and grow your top line revenues rather than just your social buzz.