I still hear people say 'well I'm not sure if my social media efforts are creating enough traffic to my website.' To that, let me say this: Stop worrying about having every friend, fan and follower use your website as some epicenter of truth. This is ineffective thinking from today forward. Social media is not a direct connect to sales. It's not "buy now." It's "have you heard?" and the thing that people seem to forget is that while pushing product is fine, loyalty to that product/brand/service is going to maintain a long-term customer and make you more money over time.
Social Media and creating a 'social graph' is a marathon and not a 100-yard dash. If you're looking to sell something now, put it in a van and drive it to the corner and put a sign on it. I see this every five years or so in this industry since I started in the onset of the 90's -- websites are the cure-all, then SEO and search, then social media, now mobile and soon tablet will be the cure to all that's wrong with your business. The only thing wrong with your business is you for thinking that some trend or gadget is here to save you.
The "Social Graph":
Metcalf's law says that the strength of a network comes from the nodes that make up the network as a whole. The more nodes, arguably I will add, that you service and are attentive to, the stronger your overall network. I contest that you want to have the conversations or real content as well, not simply 'push' content, at the point at which it's being discussed.
A Series of Touch Points:
Think of these nodes as your social channels, your Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin and variants specific to your business type and audience. This is your graph. But with that there's something that you need to understand: you need to stop trying to push everyone where you THINK they want to get your information and start speaking to them where they spend the most time. I'm not going to drag you out of vacation to tell you how I could benefit you. I'm going to talk with you where you are most willing to speak to me.
On Their Turf:
The benefit of this mentality is that in some cases (especially Facebook) users don't want to leave the confines of their network of choice. Communicate with your users where they are at the time of discussion. This is why in Facebook creating groups can be a very powerful tool for your brand. As can servicing conversations in active rotation throughout all your networks. So choose them wisely, otherwise you'll spread yourself too thin and lack passion for your conversation. I talk to my Twitter followers on Twitter, Facebook on Facebook. Yes, of course I can link them to my site if I have more to tell them about a particular point. Or I want them to see work that I've done. But the point still remains that if website traffic is your barometer for success – then you're doing it wrong! When you're in Costco, Sams, BJ's... whatever giant product merchant you've assigned yourself as cattle to, you see tons of little vendors for phones, tortilla chips and vitamin-enriched cheese spread. None of them are telling you that you need to come with them, get in your car and look at their product in their showroom, correct?
It's not that you cannot advocate "see our website for product details," but you're not making an overt stance about how to get your content. This is where community management comes into play. It's incredibly important that your community manager understands the line between brand push and natural conversation.
A Happy Community Is Worth The Money:
Communities flourish given that they are nurtured/moderated well and harness like-minded users. But that's the key with any community I would say. Point being that whether we talk here or on your website, the fact remains we're talking and that's your true measurement of success. And to further the point, the MORE PLACES (nodes, channels, etc.) by which I can have this conversation, the more powerful my network becomes.
Your Brand Fabric:
I've coined a term that I use in conversation not that makes the most sense with me and it clicks with most people. "Brand Fabric" – this is the culmination of your efforts. Your conversations, your messaging, your campaigns, your channels, your good press and bad. And just like fabric, I can become weak or strong dependent upon how it is treated. Therefore it makes sense to have a team of people that monitor your content, its messaging and its 'strength'. You're dealing with a medium that has very few excuses for not optimizing if for success.
So do yourself a favor – it you're a client, have your agency assess all the elements of your brand progressively and advocate progressive optimization. If they don't shy away from that, then they're not passionate about the work, and they enjoy collecting money from you more than making sure the work that done effectively.
Agencies, bring you clients more metrics than they can handle, as this is the gateway to new business. If you can prove that there is a way to garner more attention to the brand then show it, pitch and build it! These "staged assessment periods" are critical to prove value, educate your client and your own staff, and lastly, allow for you to streamline future pitches with other clients in your findings.
So what are you doing right, what are you doing wrong? I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you think this article would be beneficial to your peers please pass it along with the sharing features beneath.