Most social media marketing companies spend a lot of time trying to convince companies of the importance of spending money on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networks. They, accurately, extol the benefits of investing in social media content, talking about engagement metrics and reach.
“Social media marketing” has become such a well used phrase that we should think carefully about whether it is right for companies to consider social media in this way. Operating social media channels is only marketing in the same way as having a telephone line or company stationery.
You wouldn’t set up a company without a phone number for customers to talk to you. You wouldn’t sit staff at desks without a way of communicating with the outside world, and you probably would think twice before saying a website is a waste of time. Yet the IT in the office and the telephone equipment is not on the marketing budget. Why not? Because they are essential tools needed to run a business.
Social media is an essential tool. Millions of people use Facebook to communicate, millions use Twitter, YouTube etc. Obviously, much of the content and promotions on Facebook pages or in YouTube videos is related to a marketing campaign, for which a budget will be allocated, but the cost of having and running those channels should be a core part of running your business.
Smart companies should not be leaving the ROI measurement of social media to the marketing department, they should be measuring social media’s effectiveness as part of the business operation. Social media, for example, may make it easier to provide customer service answers which reduce the need to handle inbound calls in your call centre. What if customers can be encouraged to help each other instead of always relying on you?
Social media as a customer service tool (something that some companies are doing well on Twitter) means the whole world can see you dealing with customer enquiries, whereas with a call centre the only person who knows you are helpful is the one customer making the enquiry.
There are lots of reasons for companies to take social media seriously beyond the marketing department.