"Social Media" has been the hottest buzz term in business for the past several years. People are adopting the various "social" tools faster than any medium in history, and where you find people, you find is money. Smart companies have gotten past hoping social media was just a fad, and are waist deep in the middle of these internet and mobile tools. The hard part for many is finding how to go from "social" to "sales".
Many old-school business professionals are struggling to find their way in this social media world. They can no longer control the company marketing messages, and this leaves them worried about the whole environment.
Customers do not wait for companies to create communities, instead organizing their own groups and discussion forums. People are doing what people have always done -- they are communicating. The change is they can find their peers (with similar interests) much easier. Geography and time of day no longer matter.
New buzz words are popping up, and many are predicting that "social" might get pushed over to the side in the new year. Some have proclaimed 2011 to be the year of "Content Marketing", but this content cannot exist in a vacuum, nor can it reach the intended audience all by itself. "If you build it, they will come" only works in Kevin Costner movies. Instead it still relies on all that is lumped under the banner of "social media" to provide the delivery and visibility.
But what about sales? Most people are done with the hype of buzz words and are hungry for increasing the bottom line. There is an undercurrent of grumbling from the C-Suite about the investments of time and money in social media (insert "Content Marketing", or any other term) without results. We need to remember the reasons for the business.... and this involves making money.
This is not a game of Monopoly, but real life--- and real companies need sales. (Even non-profits must concern themselves with operating in the black).
I have been working with clients to ensure they do not throw the baby out with the bath-water. Some are ignoring "social" because they are not seeing immediate ROI. That is the wrong approach. All areas of business must be integrated into the whole. All actions must be aligned with the company's goals, and expanding sales must be a priority.
To move from "Social to Sales" your company must be committed to both. The necessary business actions must be working together. You cannot expect "Social" to mean "magic". By definition social cannot be one sided. It is about cultivating relationships. If you expect to see sales results from your "social" efforts without real human investment of time, then you will find yourself disappointed.
As you company looks to 2011 have you created plans for "social" and "sales"? Are they integrated with people having shared all necessary information? Or are you waiting for the Tooth Fairy?
Have A Great Day.
***Connect with Thom Singer to learn more about his "Integrated Visibility" Training Programs at thom (at) thomsinger.com