Social Media to Grow Sales and Revenue

The other day, I ran across a great article on Mashable. It laid out the 5 ways the Fortune 500 use social media: Branding, eCommerce, Research, Customer Retention, and Lead Generation. It gave the reader some fabulous examples in each of these areas.

Author Jamie Turner said: These five social approaches, though different in many respects, all have one thing in common: Each of the Fortune 500 use them to generate a profit. After all, they’re not using social media just to be social. They’re using it to make money.

Sure, we’re all trying to make a living. And there is no doubt that social media has proved to be an invaluable tool in the the marketer’s toolbox. To this I say… “Yay”. But, what is not being discussed as loudly is what it takes to garner great results with social.

A while back,  I met with a company that  asked me to give a presentation on a plan for launching a new product in a 6-8 week time frame. I presented an integrated marketing approach that included traditional media as well as a microsite, sales sheet, internal awareness, and trade show exposure, with an extended campaign over the next 6-8 months that would incorporate a social media component. They seemed quite disappointed that I had not positioned a more aggressive social media approach right out of the gate and asked for justification.

The answer was easy. They didn’t have an audience in that space. Their Facebook FanPage had <700 followers, and was nothing more than a profile with no posts, no Twitter account, no Digg account, and their YouTube channel only had 35 subscribers. Quite simply, no audience to impact.

Jaime reminds readers that “A good rule to remember is that it costs three to five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.” Social media doesn’t come without a price tag. It can take 4-6 months of concentrated effort to build up enough of a following to actually see results when you are ready to launch your product/idea/service.

When laying out your social media strategies you need to do some groundwork if you want to get results. In a previous post, I said jump in. But jumping in with a key product launch, without laying the foundation for success, could lead to more disappointment than success and taint the enthusiasm for social media tools.