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The best marketing tidbit that you’ll ever learn is to measure ROI in proper context. Social media and advertising are fundamentally different channels. That’s why it’s a mistake to compare the two directly.

The most common mistake people make is to measure social media ROI through likes, clicks or impressions—also known as vanity metrics.

Why is this a mistake?

Because it contradicts the nature of the social media medium. Social media is all about keeping up with friends, joining a conversation, and developing relationships. Likes, clicks, and impressions are a part of that, yes, but they are not central to it.

Your agency should consider measuring the outcome of your investments by how many new relationships you can build for a brand through social media.

New relationships are important. Each new relationship represents a new chance to extend the potential reach of your brand. It also opens up opportunities for word of mouth growth.

Social Media vs. Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation

Social media, demand generation, and lead generation are all connected.

There is a slight but important difference between demand generation and lead generation.

Lead generation is the process of finding people currently interested in learning more about your solution.

Demand generation embarks on a broader effort to cast a wide net over your market, raise awareness of your company, and build connections with the community.

Both heavily intertwine with your social media presence.

Geoffrey Moore discusses the importance of all three in his seminal marketing book Crossing the Chasm. Moore defines a market, in part, as a group of individuals who can reference each other. For every market there is a community waiting to be born!

Each moment and crossover cannot happen without the other.

Lead generation focuses on the top and middle of the funnel. Demand generation includes pre-sales funnel activity. Social media builds a community of future customers and advocates to establish pre-sale activity.

The Pre-Sales Funnel’s Dependence on Social Media

Depictions of the buyer journey and the corresponding marketing funnel usually start at the awareness stage.

There is nothing wrong with this. It just implies that the buying/selling process has already begun.

But has it?

Not necessarily. In fact, this idea is problematic. It doesn’t truly consider the role that social networks and experiences play in the sales funnel.

It also fails to consider the buyer as a more holistic being who is situated in a more complex (social) environment than just buying everything now, or within a week’s time.

Where does the awareness stage leave the rest of your market?

What are you supposed to do with prospects who are not experiencing the pain point that you aim to resolve?

What do the people who may not be in a financial position to buy at present moment do?

What about the people who (for whatever reason) are not ready to start going down the sales road with you?

Wouldn’t you still want to be friends with all of these different types of people?

Social Media, Community Building, Relationships, and Sales

The beauty of social media community building is that it considers all of the people that pre-sales funnels and the awareness stage doesn’t.

It aims to accomplish something valuable with them: a stable, memorable, and pleasant relationship so that they don’t have to buy now, but can later when they are ready.

The best part is that social media and community building fits perfectly within the permission-based marketing nexus.

For example, you begin a relationship with someone in your target market through a Twitter interaction during a conference. This could later move to a Twitter Chat, and that conversation could evolve over a few weeks. They may choose to subscribe to your newsletter, and in time they may become a customer 🎉.

Social Media ROI: Vanity Metrics or Real Relationships?

Building increasingly deeper relationships aligns perfectly with our social nature. It fits perfectly with our business goals too.

Whether you are hoping to generate new leads, distribute your content, or build a stronger community, social media ought to play an important role in your marketing strategy.

It presents an opportunity to shape the pre-sales buyer journey. It also opens the door to grassroots community, word of mouth and PR. All of this is becoming an increasingly critical component of a well-thought-out brand awareness strategy.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media ROI by limiting it to vanity metrics. Your social media presence can do and result to so much more if you invest time and energy into it.

The Ultimate Social Media Guide for Digital Agencies


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