5 minutes reading time (991 words)

‘Social’ Needs ‘Traditional’ To Land Sales

‘Social’ Needs ‘Traditional’ To Land Sales

There was a time when major brands thought, that in terms of social media success, it was enough simply to have a few folk 'like' you on Facebook or to run off with a bout of social diarrhea on the Twitter account. Fortunately, the wiser marketer has worked out there is a little more to social media success than that. Whilst sharing is paramount in the social world, there is a new dawn of realization that there is nothing wrong if people want to buy things they discovered socially.

It has also dawned on many that social media is not the highly cost-effective Holy Grail that many once thought it was. This misnomer too has fallen by the side of the marketing super highway – as the cost of having to deal with individual customer messages / enquiries requires costly specialist staff to monitor and manage that side of the equation. These costs need to be factored in and if there are sales produced as part of the social process then it helps pay these costs.

The smarter brand managers now realize there is no silver bullet for social media success and no vocational course to teach you how to succeed. Those who think they have learnt all there is to know, soon see the ‘art’ change in the refresh of a screen. New social media vehicles and apps appear all the time and the well known sites constantly reinvent themselves.

However, one thing is certain. Brands and the products they cover, need to identify ever more creative ways to grab customers and prospects alike. Across the majority of the social toolset, this now involves the creative use of a visual or video image and a clever caption / call to action. Combined, these are designed to win the hearts of passing traffic just long enough that those interested stop and get lost in the social mechanic involved. Given current noise levels this is a lot harder than it used to be of course. This may not necessarily be aimed at selling – it may well have some other loftier objective - but most commercial campaigns do at some stage need to consider converting sales through social means.

Assuming that only the luckiest or most creative campaigns will become a truly viral phenomena, the challenge is to identify techniques that will work anyway, at a sub viral level, in terms of grabbing the attention of a reasonable number of potential customers. This, of course, is especially true in the B2B world where viral activity is often less relevant and audiences are more qualified.

In reality, with social media, you have such a short time span to grab attention. With print ads, marketers used to be half a second to get a response, whereas now even if the content is for a benign purpose, it’s down to hundredths of a second. Often the images used look pants if they are too commercial or not that social. So clearly, success here comes down to the quality of the image concept or video used and a good strap line. Of course one can go for the usual “How To” approach or the ‘10 best tips’ approach, however it’s probably still best to challenge the visitor with a well pointed question…..

Success here lies in the strength of the images used – so this is not the time to scrimp on the photography budget. It also depends on the creativity of the question asked as a call to action. You should applaud any brand that is lucky enough to have recruited its own internal social marketing team but the chances are that an agency will come up with better ideas and better execution.

The campaign mechanic then needs to be rolled out at the best times and scheduled to ensure all the different vehicles work well together. There needs to be some commitment to monitoring effectiveness and identifying respondents properly too. Too many campaigns still generate the response and then take too long to act – speed is therefore essential.

Having grabbed the customer or prospect’s attention, one needs then to maintain it and this means that brand managers need to give them something that they have not seen before and which has an intrinsic value to them. It’s a challenge but the rewards are potentially huge both in awareness and sales terms.

The secret though is to combine this new and innovative social media pitch with the traditional.. Some will say just send them a 'nice' piece of fresh andinformative content. Good content is crucial of course but it’s not enough to generate ongoing loyalty or even heaven forbid actual business. Ergo, you might want to consider the following traditional alternatives as the way to encourage a commercial relationship with social media visitors:

Competitions – to induce engagement

Sales Promotions – To pull sales times forward

Experiential marketing– To induce trial

Tribal Marketing – To link customers and prospects into to existing groups and their related values…for example if you fly the flag – aim to align them with traditional positive national values.

E-Mail Marketing Subscription – Offer them unique targeted multi-channel content, offers and video through regular email newsletters.

Events – To see products in the flesh and to interact with sales people.

All of these tools should work in unison and of course be supported by good PR and where appropriate above the line advertising activity. The key word here is integration.
This integration with tradition is great for those who have always advocated that one should ‘preach great change but reform slowly’! However, it works well to tightly bind social marketing with integrated marketing. Social media is just another channel but it cannot work in isolation. It needs all the proven traditional marketing mix variables used seamlessly together to convert social leads into sales. The trouble is there are still many out there who still don’t get that. Their days are numbered.