By David Gee
Okay, I'll admit it, I am engaging in a bit of click bait blogging. Social media does in fact sell boats. Social media is an important, even essential, part of marketing today for most companies and organizations. But it's not enough. It can't be successful in isolation.
And yet I seem to be coming across more and more companies who think somehow their marketing begins - and ends - with social.
We know pretty much everyone these days turns to the Internet first when they are looking for information, products, or services. You want these potential customers to find your website, browse your inventory, and contact you—not a competitor.
That is especially true when today's customers are about three-fourths of the way through the decision funnel before you have your first contact with them.
But you're not just trying to interest them in one particular model you might have in stock. You're really trying to engage them. Laying that groundwork of engagement is vitally important. In fact, without it, you really can’t sell.
Hand holding not Facebook following
When I was working as a communications consultant I was asked to give a capabilities presentation to the marketing team at a formerly high-flying company that was struggling to remain relevant.
They told me they were reasonably happy with the recent social media efforts of a "digital marketing agency" working on their behalf, but simply wanted to see "what else was out there."
I could see they were tweeting once or twice a day and posting on Facebook once a day, but I didn't know what else they were doing. The answer, as I found out, is nothing.
When I told them that simply wasn't enough, they didn't seem happy.
And when I said what they really needed was an integrated marketing and content creation strategy that can hold a customer’s hand throughout their entire purchasing journey, and not just when the customer is ready to buy their products or sevices.
I told them they would be rewarded if they did that, citing a consumer survey that found 92% of those surveyed said they would buy from a company that gave them a wide range of helpful, valuable information, and moved them across their purchasing journey.
And that was all I told them as it turned out. That was the end of the conversation. I didn't get their business. And today I'm not even sure if they're still in business.
Measuring and listening
Even though social media isn't all you should be doing, this meeting got me thinking that many companies could still be doing more to even maximize their social media influence. So let's drill down for a moment.
There must be a reason for a brand to be on social media. Do you know yours? Do you know who your customers and target buyers are, their habits, how and where they spend their boating time, what questions they have and the kind of information they are looking for online during various stages of the buying cycle?
Do you have landing pages and other destinations you can drive social media traffic to? Because getting more followers is not the goal. Generating more brand awareness, leads, sales, and an engaged and loyal customer base is.
How much do you measure? Each time you publish something do you analyze the social shares, the page views, the time on the page, the bounce rate, the leads generated, the leads touched and the revenue influenced? There are plenty of affordable, easy-to-use tools to help you do this.
Are you having actual conversations with your customers and community, or have you co-opted social media as just another channel to push your products at people? The real beauty of social media is it gives us the ability to listen, as well as talk, but most don't take advantage of this.
In fact, you might be missing out on a big piece of insight about your brand that people are actively discussing. You want to know what people are saying about you.
Your customers are telling you what they want from you. If you care about them, you need to take a look at the insights you might gain from social listening.
Post it and profit
It would be nice if social media was enough, if a cool video or pithy Facebook post constantly made your phone ring and sold all the boats in your inventory.
You unfortunately still need to hire - and keep - great staff, have the right website, spend time and money doing boat shows, engage in inbound and outbound marketing, community events and all the rest.
Social media can be a highly effective sales and marketing tool, acting as a great place for people to learn more about you, your brand, your history, your products and your why. Just not all by itself.