What Makes a Company a Good Candidate for Social Media Marketing?

Here's a checklist for you: five ways to figure out if social media marketing is a waste of time for your company

Let’s face it: social media marketing isn’t for everyone. There are some companies that can use it to drive revenue directly, fill the sales pipeline or bolster their brands. Others, however, won’t see much in the way of return. It’s just a painful fact of life. Yet, the pressure from the marketplace is such that many companies feel obligated to enter the social space. If our competitors are doing it, the thinking goes, we should be too.

Frankly, that’s not good enough. Not even close.

When deciding whether to launch a social media marketing initiative, you need to focus on your own company. Let the competition make decisions as a result of apparent market pressures. Instead, you can do so from a position of strength, knowing that you’re looking at your business and investing your capital in a way that will drive returns.

So, how do you know if social media marketing is right for your company? Here are five indications of a good fit:

1. You are committed to a balanced marketing mix: this doesn’t mean treating every channel equally, but it does entail a bit of diversification. You don’t want to bet only on email, and you certainly don’t want to bet exclusively on Twitter. If you have a mix that consists of a variety of channels – each with a specific purpose – then it certainly makes sense to consider social media.

2. You have a plan: and that plan involves more than “just for the hell of it.”

3. You have the resources: social media is not free. Never. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a scam artist and a liar … or just plain stupid. You’ll need content, strategy, promotion and maybe even a little development. These may be soft costs, but they add up fast.

When I launched my first in-house social media marketing initiative, I voluntarily took the project on, so we avoided incremental costs by consuming my nights and weekends. This only worked because: (a) I believed in the project, (b) I brought the right capabilities to the company and (c) I knew I’d be able to justify making social media central to my job and realigning my other obligations around it. But, it started with interest and resources. Without them, you’re not going to get anywhere.

4. You have a clear set of (the right) metrics: if your company is not insanely committed to measurement, you should stay as far away from social media as possible. Social media only works (except by accident) when you bring a considerable amount of marketing discipline to the table. You have to measure everything you to identify what’s performing for you – and you have to measure it the right way.

Ignore likes, retweets, follows, shares and all that other social media noise. Instead, look at account penetration, net-new leads, pipeline and sales. Measure your social media effort like you would any other aspect of your business.

5. You integrate your marketing efforts: social media just doesn’t work on its own. If you’re waiting for organic growth, you’re more likely to see Godot than ROI – that’s just the nature of the beast. You’ll need PR and mass media to drive traffic to your social media environment, not to mention word of mouth that passes along your targeted messaging. And, you have to be ready for social media to give – specifically pushing people to landing and transaction pages, and into your sales cycle in other ways. Everything has to connect and work together.