Common excuses for crappy social media marketing

So, you’re having a ‘conversation’ with fans on your online platforms—great! But if you’re not turning that into actual business transactions, you’re missing the point.

Lots of people try to convince me that social media marketing isn’t about sales. It’s about building a community, interacting with people, showing the fun side of the brand—you know, being social and stuff.

I really want to slap them in the forehead and ask why they’re even doing it, then. Pull the plug. Stop wasting resources on it.

Marketing is supposed to influence consumer behavior, but what happens when marketing becomes a two-way conversation and the people who are in direct contact with consumers are not thinking like salespeople? The conversation keeps going, and nobody buys anything. That’s a lot of fun, but it won’t keep the business in business, which is an important part of business.

There are a million things we do every day that make us feel like we’ve worked hard and accomplished something. Social media is one of them. Today your social media team connected with lots of people, and you drove conversation and awareness. People commented and you commented back, and all this activity can be measured, even.

What about those sales? Did anything get sold? That’s when the excuses start to fly.

1. But social media is only about raising awareness—you know, like billboards.

The difference between a billboard and social media marketing is that if you talk to a billboard it can’t talk back. Billboards can’t have conversations, answer questions, or talk you into doing stuff. They can make you aware of something, but then you have to do something else to learn more—like visit a website, call a number, or Google it.

2. But the product is crap.

So what? Lots are. Even turds get swarmed by flies. Your job is to sexy up that turd and gather up some flies. If it’s really that bad, you shouldn’t have taken the job. Find the right audience, and connect with them. Do your job.

3. But it’s hard to connect social media data to sales figures.

Then stop trying to do that. Just look at your numbers before you start a social media campaign, promo, launch a video, run a contest, and look at them after. Are you selling more? If not, stop doing it or do it differently. If so, double down on it.

I run a digital agency, and my two biggest responsibilities include making sure new business is coming in and great work is going out. We rely 100 percent on social media for our new business development, so each day when I ask myself and our team what we accomplished today, I don’t mean the details, I mean the results. What did we do to move the needle forward for ourselves and for our clients?

4. But social media is just about building interest and demand.

Yup. Then what? Is some other team supposed to swoop in and take care of the sales part? Are you going to wait for consumers to call or email for more info or ask where they can get what you’re selling? You have a captive audience. They just need to know what to do next. Make them not only aware of your product or service but also aware of what they can do to get it and the reasons they should.

5. But it’s what the client wants.

Maybe the client is wrong. Listen to what the client wants to achieve more than how the client wants you to do it. If their ideas aren’t working, show them the pie charts. People love pie charts. They clearly tell the story while simultaneously reminding them of pie; everyone loves pie.

A few years back, my agency was pitching a viral video marketing project for IBM. The marketing director asked me, “Do you have the balls to tell us what you really think, no matter what we say?” You’re the expert in the room. Start acting like it.

By the way, I said yes—and we got the job. Now get back to work.

A version of this article first appeared on SuperCoolCreative.

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