We recently landed a new social media marketing project with some seriously aggressive financial goals and a tight time frame in which to achieve them.
Although my brain was filled with possible strategies to pursue, before I started working, I decided to do some homework and read the latest and greatest B2C social media case studies to make sure I didn’t overlook anything.
What I read concerned me: case study after case study with same tired conclusion – the campaign was a blazing success and netted the company X new followers and/or X new fans.
And all I kept thinking was, “I hope whoever worked on those campaigns enjoyed that paycheck, cause those days are ending.”
Netting oodles of fans or followers is akin to going to a park, throwing around some birdseed and watching as 200 pigeons flock around you to eat it.
It’s an awesome sight to behold…if your goal is to feed birds.
Unfortunately, that is not the goal of most companies.
Their goal is to catch birds, smush them through a sales funnel and eat them so the company can stay alive.
(Sorry for the brutish analogy. I’m reading the Game of Thrones series. It’s making me rather medieval in my thinking).
We’ve been lucky the past few years because many companies have been entranced by the flocks of birds and the power of social media consultants and companies to attract those flocks to their doorstep.
I know the feeling. Many years ago, I fed a flock of thousands in Venice and was overwhelmed by all the squawking and jostling for position to vie for my little bag of seeds. It was awe-inspiring and thrilling to be able to move so many with so little effort.
But when the seeds ran out, the birds moved on to a new tourist and I was left with empty hands, still skies and poop on my shoes.
Let’s be realistic, as lovely as the flocks may be, companies will not continue to allocate their financial resources to attract them if all they net their companies are dirty shoes and good memories. (Maybe if you’re in PR, but in marketing, those days are numbered.)
This hypothesis was seconded later in the week during the MarketingProfs B2B Forum session I watched called, “How to Deliver the Right Metrics to Your CMO and Earn More Recognition for Marketing” with Terry Flaherty from Bulldog Solutions and Jonathan Vlock from UBM Tech Web.
During his portion of the presentation, Jonathan discussed “metrics traps,” including “metrics in isolation” and “artificial expectations” – both of which apply to social media measurement more than I’d care to admit.
500 gazillion birds is a lot of birds. In isolation, it’s an impressive number. But, if your goal is to drive marketing, converting even 75% of those birds to fans is a worthless metric if you end up converting 0% of them to marketing leads.
Or, worse yet, heading into a marketing campaign with the goal of 500 gazillion fans to “drive revenue” is an artificial expectation if you have not also charted out how exactly you intend to corral those birds into some sort of revenue generating pipeline.
In short, when it comes to social media, there is a wide gap between the open air and the marketing and sales funnel that most businesses hold dear.
And it needs to start closing.
If people continue to keep their eyes on the sky instead of on their wallets, dirty shoes will be the least of their concerns.
(My apologies to my colleague, Kary, who is deathly afraid of birds and proofread this post for me anyway.)
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.