More and more thought leaders and analysts are saying what many social media marketers have been saying all along: social media marketing offers benefits beyond those that can be immediately quantified in dollars.
Sure, the best case scenario for everyone is being able to establish a direct correlation between a company’s social media budget and an impressive increase in sales, or significant lowering of costs (due to less money going to overpriced print ads, for example). Sometimes this can be done, but many times it can’t. What we hear more and more is that those social media campaigns where a brand develops a strong social media presence but cannot measure the campaign’s success in dollars, are not necessarily unsuccessful.
Several months ago, in January 2010, analyst Laura Ramos cautioned that social media shouldn’t necessarily be relied on as a source for generating qualified leads, but as a platform to foster engagement. Said Ramos, “I see social media as a tool marketers are looking at to create awareness and demand, and I think it’s going to be more of a tool for how to establish and maintain relationships, grow those customer relationships and ultimately, turn those customers into advocates for you,” she said. “From a marketing standpoint, as a communication medium, it is certainly a new set of technologies that will very much change the way business is done.”
More recently, analyst Augie Ray said that social media offers important benefits even if they’re not all financial benefits. These include brand awareness and loyalty – a successful social media campaign has the power to improve consumer attitudes about the brand; and risk management – social media enables an organization to immediately become aware of, and respond to, attacks or problems that affect reputation. Needless to say, these benefits do affect a company financially – long term.
One of my top (and favorite) clients recently told me, that she sees incredible value in our social media campaign even though it never directly brought her a client. She said that her online presence, especially her blog, brings her credibility. Through her Twitter account, she was invited to speak at a prestigious conference. And recently, a participant in a survey she was recruiting for had told her that he initially thought her offer was a scam, but he visited her blog and it convinced him that her firm is for real. This goes back to what Mr. Ray was talking about, and is a great example of how a good social media campaign can improve attitudes towards a business.