Should social media be a space for branding/thought leadership or a function of your sales team?
We work with clients on this issue often and the short answer is that social media, when done correctly, should do both. On one side, organizations shouldn’t (or can’t afford to) blindly pass on an opportunity to generate sales or action through a channel where opportunity exists.
On the other hand, social media isn’t simply “another sales channel.”
We (and many others) have made the comparison often: social media should be treated like a cocktail party or networking event. If you walked up to everyone you met at an event, told them what you do, why they should work with you, hand them a business card and walk away, you wouldn’t be making a great impression on anyone. The better approach is to engage with those you’re talking with and actually build rapport and credibility.
One of the most challenging aspects of managing social media is finding that balance between conversations/engagement/rapport and action-driving content. It’s different for every one of our clients, and it should be different for every organization. The software company with two-year-long sales cycles is going to have a different approach than the QSR restaurant selling sandwiches and salads for lunch. Even companies in direct competition with each other have various brand voices and propositions that justify a different blend of branding and sales on social media.
So how should your brand approach the branding vs. selling question? Here are three questions to ask that will likely help:
- What does my audience want and expect?
- What does our brand personality look like, and how might that impact how we interact with customers/audience on social networks?
- How are we going to measure both brand recognition/affinity and sales on social networks based on the answers to those first two questions?
There is distinct value in being able to drive action via social media channels, but your chances of doing so are completely dependent upon how much trust and credibility you’ve built with your audiences.