Social Media Marketing: So What Does It Actually Mean?

February 16, 2015

Social Media Marketing: So What Does It Actually Mean?

Is social media marketing for brand awareness, loyalty or is it an acquisition tool? When consulting for brands around Europe I come across this question a lot.

Depending on who you talk to within an organization the answers differ.

Some are convinced that social media is only for brand awareness, some will tell you stories about how social media doesn’t convert into sales for them, and others are convinced that social media is the holy grail for retention.

The thing is that they are all both right and wrong at the same time. Why?

What is social media marketing, then?

Social media marketing is such a broad term and involves so much more than just posting updates to a Facebook page.

It involves activities that range from getting people to talk about you online, maintaining a great content calendar and engaging with your audience to buying Facebook adverts.

All these activities would fall under social media marketing, but would obviously be either related to retention, loyalty or conversion.

I think we all can sign off on the fact that any well-targeted Facebook ad has a better direct customer conversion rate than doing customer service on Twitter.

At the same time a Google+ Hangout talking about a new product feature will probably help your loyalty and awareness much more than it will assist direct conversion of new sales.

They are all good and useful tactics, but need to be measured and evaluated with the correct goals and objectives in mind as exemplified in the below chart.


It’s much easier to talk about social media marketing tactics if we first know what goals we want to support.

I think the typical Facebook pages that brands are running tends to be closer to a loyalty building activity rather than an acquisition activity.

Think about it for yourself.

Apart from aspirational brands such as Rolls Royce, Aston Martin or Ferrari, are most of the pages you liked by someone whom you’ve already had business with or intended to do business with?

I think that if you’re a fan of cars you might be interested in liking Ferarri’s Facebook page, because they fall in the group as an aspirational brand, but unless you’ve eaten at your local pizzeria I don’t think you’d perhaps like their Facebook page.

Doing customer service outreach on Twitter has the direct impact of satisfying your customers, but it will probably also help assisting future sales but with a longer conversion (and more difficult to measure) funnel.

Any advertising on social channels such Facebook sponsored stories, YouTube video overlays and promoted Tweets are heavily targeted and obviously aimed at converting into a direct sale.


The beauty of activities on social channels is that they don’t live in isolation from each other, but they tend to assist one and each other.

As per the example with customer service outreach on Twitter, that Twitter conversation is public and if handled well could potentially assist in a sale from a future prospect.

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