Today’s marketers face mounting pressure to show how every activity or tactic they use moves the sales needle. That includes social media. Yet, despite its widespread adoption, identifying and gauging social media’s sales contribution remain pretty much a tough nut to crack.
Around 9 in 10 marketers leverage social media in their marketing programs, with 55% saying this channel generates leads and another 45% claiming it delivers revenues. However, a full 71% cite attributing social media to revenue as the biggest challenge in proving their marketing efforts’ ROI. In fact, as much as 91% of marketers rely only on social media engagement metrics as their main yardsticks for success.
There now seems to be a widening disconnect between social’s relative importance in the marketing mix and the value it brings to the table. That’s why, for this edition of our Influencer Interview Series, we reach out to social media marketing experts and ask them how this channel specifically impacts revenues. What they told us really sheds some much-needed light on social media’s ever-shifting role in the sales process and then some. Here’s a quick rundown.
Tim Hughes, DIGITAL LEADERSHIP ASSOCIATES
First up, we have CEO and social selling pioneer Tim Hughes who puts social in its proper place in the sales funnel. As co-author of the bestseller Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers, Tim clearly points out what role social plays in revenue generation:
Using Social media for marketing (branding, gaining leads and meetings) as well as social to accelerate sales through the pipe has become business as usual in 2017. For those not doing it yet the good news is that people are still not very good at it, so a small change will give you a massive competitive advantage. For those still not demonstrating an ROI, it is pretty easy to connect social media activity and actual CRM pipe generated and there revenue generated.
Kim Reynolds, Social Media Examiner
Kim works as marketing manager at SMExaminer and as a digital marketing strategist in the independent film industry. She highlights the value of paid social in leveling the playing field for marketers with limited time and budget:
My company primarily focuses on marketing independent movies. These movies often do not have a large social presence to launch with, nor do they have the time required to nurture a loyal tribe of enthusiasts.
Social media specifically paid social media such as Facebook ads, is crucial for my clients’ success. By leveraging Facebook’s detailed targeting capabilities, we are able to reach our audience, even when it is a small film release that is not going to be seen on many movie screens.
Ian Anderson Gray, Seriously Social
Ian is the founder of Seriously Social, a trusted resource on social media and marketing tools. He delivers talks around the world on topics related to social media technology. Accordingly, Ian shares some pretty interesting perspectives in his interview response:
As human beings, we’ve bought goods and services from each other for millennia. Trust has always been vital in business transactions – and trust only comes from deeper social interactions and conversations. That used to happen in the marketplace in medieval times, but then we got away from that as businesses became bigger and more separated from the humans that built them.
The thing I love about social media is the way it brings the human-to-human interaction back to the equation. That’s been hugely beneficial to my business. With the relationships I’ve built on social media, I’ve been able to build an audience of people who love what I do and what I offer. I’ve been able to help people through my courses and social media has helped my sell these to a wider audience. Some of my audience have become great friends and some have become huge advocates for me and my business – doing some of my marketing for me by spreading the word. Social media has changed my life and changed my business – allowing me to scale to a worldwide audience.
Entrepreneur Daniel Brando brings the conversation back to social media’s original purpose of enabling person-to-person connections—an often-overlooked point among marketers today:
Social media is the best way for you to connect with your fans and tell your stories visually.
It’s not about selling anymore. It’s about creating connections, knowing who your fans are, what they do, what they like, and what they really think about your brand.
It’s a much more fair game now, because if you want to get a return you must give them something first. And what they really want, most of the times, is connection – to be seen and heard – and great content that adds value to their lives.
On the other hand, social media also allows you to show the other side of your business. The important side. The human side.
It may seem like a contradiction, but in today’s fast-paced and electronical world it’s easier to reach out to people and to show them that there is a person or a group of people, just like them, with the same dreams, desires, and weaknesses as they do, who works to serve them; not to sell, but to serve them.
And social media as a whole can do just that for your business. It can help you create connections, reach more people who are interested in what you do, and, most importantly, it allows you to show them why you do it.
Payman Taei, Visme and HindSite Interactive
Payman wears many hats: entrepreneur, UI/UX Designer, presentation/Data Viz specialist, visual educator—to name a few. Payman thinks social is about engagement and reaching out. Generating sales is only a by-product of social media interactions and relationships:
We don’t actually measure the revenue impact of social media sales at Visme. We see social engagement as merely one of a number of signals that gives us insight to how our audience is interacting with our brand and the content we develop. Any revenue down the funnel that maybe attributed to social efforts are merely a side effect (a reaction) to the engagement gained through social. In short, we see social as another avenue to reach our audience and not primarily as a sales effort.
If there’s one takeaway we can glean from all the influencers we’ve interviewed, it’s that social media means different things to different marketers. Some use it for driving revenues, while others rely on it for branding. Maybe this explains why a large number of marketers find it difficult to gauge how much social media contributes to sales. They’re simply focusing on or prioritizing a different goal other than revenues. Either way, social media does contribute to reaching marketing priorities and goals—just in varying ways. There’s different strokes for different folks, after all.