Social Media: What’s the Point?

“Imagine, for a moment, that as a marketer, if you were to go to your boss or client and say, ‘I’m going to send out a million postcards today.’ You would be asked many questions about what you were doing: who are we sending them to, where is the list coming from, what is the messaging, where is the creative, what is the expected ROI, and on and on. In other words, you would be asked, What’s the plan?

Murray Izenwasser asks this salient question in the 2014 Statistical Fact Book.  It’s a good reminder that as marketers we need to understand not only how we are using social media, but why.

Casey Hampsey from the DMA points out that “by far the most important objective clients are seeking with social media marketing is ‘To increase brand awareness/enhance reputation.’ Other objectives were of higher important in the past, such as driving website traffic, lead generation, and customer service, but every other category has dropped to below 10% (with the exception of ‘To sell products directly,’ which always hovered just under 10%).”

This shift, from building traffic and leads and providing customer service to brand awareness and reputation, could have more than one root cause. Perhaps, as Hampsey suggests, social media may be “simply settling into a comfortable niche after a few years of experimenting with what works.” Or maybe brand awareness and overall reputation has become a higher priority for companies in this age of digital overstimulation and non-stop messaging.

Whatever your company’s reason, the “why” needs to be clear and tied to overall marketing goals and objectives. If not, you are simply mailing millions of postcards to no one in particular. And that’s not a very bright way to run a marketing plan.