4 Signs You’re Using “Brand” as a Social Media Marketing Excuse

When in doubt, call it branding, right? WRONG. Here are four signs you might be using branding as an excuse to avoid social media marketing accountability.

photo by RobotSkirt via Flickr

photo by RobotSkirt via FlickrWhere are your conversions? “Oh, we’re using social media for branding.” How are you helping your company generate revenue? “Brand.” What is the ultimate value of all those tweets and likes? “Brand recognition.” If you’re letting your marketing team tell you this, you’re getting scammed. Or, you’re just putting up with laziness. Like any other form of marketing, the social media sort requires strategy, discipline and measurable results. Just because your kid has a Facebook page or a Twitter account, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your company’s investments in these platforms seriously.

Too often, we lean on “brand” when we’re questioned about the value of a marketing initiative. Don’t get me wrong: brand management is incredibly important. It may not lead directly to sales, but it sure does help. In the early days of social media marketing, branding was the goal, especially while we were all figuring out just how to use corporate blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds effectively.

Well, we’re past that now.

There’s no excuse for not driving measurable financial results. If you aren’t doing so, you probably need to take a hard look at your social media marketing strategy (if you have one) and make a few changes. You also need to be ready to be held accountable for the time and resources you invest in the effort. Of course, if you’re good at what you do, you’ll welcome the scrutiny – and take the opportunity to do a bit of chest-thumping.

For the rest of the marketing community – i.e., those that aren’t driving contributions to profitable growth and bragging to their executive teams about it – it’s time for a fit of quiet honesty. Are you using branding as an excuse for not committing to measurable financial targets? Here are five signs that you might be:

1. You won’t commit to targets: when you’re asked to measure even the behaviors and activity that are known to contribute to sales (such as lead generation and registrations), you push back. You talk about the importance of “visibility” and “message.” Well, both should ultimately lead to a relationship with your company of the monetary variety.

2. You’re cagey on “the point”: when I was trying to get my first social media marketing initiative off the ground, I had to answer several questions repeatedly (such as, “What’s a blog?”), but the most important one was, “What’s the point?” Executives are more likely to trust you to take them into the unknown if you make the upside clear and show them how you will get them there. They might not understand your crazy acronyms and spoken hashtags, but they will get a sense that you know what you’re doing. If you’re answer is limited to “bolster the brand,” they should be skeptical. Instead, show how you’re going to drive real results. Include brand, but also discuss lead generation, PR and conversion.

3. You haven’t thought through your other options: brand is easy to justify, and it’s a natural fit for social media marketing. But, there’s a lot more you can do with a corporate blog or a Facebook page. You may be asked how you can increase sales, generate intelligence for your business development team or gather contact information. If you’re sticking to “brand” because you haven’t thought about these other marketing activities, it’s time to give up the crutch you’ve been leaning on.

4. Your calls to action are weak: yes, getting someone to do something is the hardest part of marketing. It’s also, arguably, the whole reason for the business discipline. If you aren’t figuring out what you want people to do, getting them to do it and measuring the results – because you’re focused on “brand” – you’re not accomplishing what you could … or should.

Brand is important, but so is generating revenue. Stop using it as an excuse for lazy and ineffective social media marketing. Step up. Set some challenging objectives. Then, exceed them. Thump your chest. Repeat.

[photo by RobotSkirt via Flickr]