Social media marketing had a dismal showing over this year's thanksgiving weekend - achieving less than 1% of total sales.
The ROI (Return On Investment) figures for eCommerce businesses from Black Friday to Cyber Monday are an indication of how poorly business understands social media and social media marketing.
In my previous article on social media marketing, entitled The social media marketing honeymoon is over, I talked about how businesses need to re-assess how to use social media, and re-align their strategy accordingly.
In that article, I suggested that business tends to view social media as the connection with customers and consumers, when, in fact, social media is simply another tool.
Taking the view that social media engagement is simply one link in the marketing chain, led to new questions. In particular, "How does business capitalize on its social media marketing successes to drive real growth, sales and conversions?"
This article provides a direct follow on by offering 3 marketing strategies that I recommend businesses put in place, in order to start converting their social media marketing efforts into revenue.
I predict that eBay is going to have a great Christmas. Because, to my mind, it looks like their marketing department is starting to understand how to use social media more effectively.
eBay is leveraging the social influence of people like Robert Scoble to generate buzz around their products by creating wish lists and gift lists.
Now the idea of a wishlist is not new. But, to my knowledge, there aren't (m)any wishlists that have gone viral, which is why, up 'til now, they haven't really been real social media marketing superstar contenders.
But I think that will change this Christmas.
Why? eBay has strategically targeted social influencers - people they know will generate plenty of buzz and hype. This is exactly the kind of strategy I talked about back in September in the article entitled How social influencers can grow your business online.
After all, if Robert Scoble is going to buy some new gadget for business, don't you think you should be too?
I know this has been said plenty of times before, but I guess that someone has to keep saying it until it sinks in. Put a human face to your social media. People tend to trust a person before they trust a company.
Find an employee who is happy to be the face of your business when it comes to social media.
Google's webspam team does this really well by putting Matt Cutts (and a few others) out there, front and center. And, while there are plenty of SEOs who have a lot of bad things to say about Matt (he is often unfairly targeted by frustrated SEOs), he does a great job of giving Google a friendly and reasonable persona.
When I think of Google SEO, I think of Matt Cutts, and I think of friendly, clear, well reasoned and well presented advice. This affects my personal view of all of Google.
A word of advice though, make sure the face of your company or brand has a thick skin. The Internet is not necessarily a kind place, and many people will be cruel or nasty, launching scathing and pointlessly personal attacks, for no reason.
Your online brand ambassador will need to be able to take complaints, and diffuse vitriol without becoming embroiled in fruitless conflict.
I think that many social media marketers have focused on easy-to-reach metrics such as likes or follows, and used those as an indication of "engagement". They're not.
A like or a follow is more an indication that you have reached that person, and should hopefully be able to reach them again.
Reaching someone is great. It's valuable. But it's not engagement. In other words, the intrinsic value of a like or follow is too low to infer that conversions are imminent.
If you re-asses what you consider to be an engaged customer, client or follower, you will quickly come to see that there is a whole new dimension to social media marketing that has to be put in place in order to get people ready to convert.
How you decide to engage customers depends on your business, goals, audience, and the creativity and prowess of your people. What does your audience enjoy doing? How can you teach them about your product or brand in a way that is of benefit to them?
A friendly word of advice. Try social marketing strategies in which you control (or have some control) over the interaction. Otherwise, you may end up with a #McDStories social media nightmare.
So those are my thought on social media marketing and how business can turn things around so that social media starts driving more than a fraction of a percent of business online.
Do you agree that business needs to improve how they use social media marketing? If so, what suggestions do you have for businesses to drive more sales from their social reach and influence?
Share your thoughts in the comments.