Social media: Listen less and sell more

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Your brand may have a lot of Facebook fans and Twitter followers, but chances are your social media marketing methods aren't working that well to drive what really matters: sales. In 2010, you need to move beyond using social media to create buzz and actually get consumers to buy.

Social media in 2009 was all about engagement. Marketers large and small jumped onto Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social channels in a rush to amass as many "fans" for their brands as possible. The hope was -- and it worked to a large extent for many marketers -- to create brand advocates who would spread your messages virally to their friends online. But while social media is great for creating buzz, many marketers are beginning to realize that is doesn't -- and shouldn't -- stop there. Social media is also a great direct marketing channel that drives valuable sales.

Save the date! For more social media marketing best practices, attend ad:tech San Francisco, April 19-21. Click here to learn more.

In 2010, more and more brands will find ways to use social marketing to move the sales needle -- driving people to not just talk about their brands, but to make purchases through the social channel. And that move will necessitate a whole new crop of analytics tools that enable marketers to measure with precision how social media activity about their brand impacts not just brand engagement, but conversion. Instead of just relying on buzz monitoring tools to see who is talking about their brand and what they're saying, marketers now need sophisticated analytics tools (a list of these tools is provided at end of this article) that show which word-of-mouth conversations result in bottom-line sales and why.

This year, marketers will move beyond listening to start selling.

For marketers, there are ways to make this transition fairly easily. The trick is to not succumb to the temptation to just start spamming your fan base with hundreds of discounts and offers, but to instead take the time to analyze trends across your social programs to find out exactly what people want -- and then deliver relevant, timely promotions. Provided you don't come on too strong, consumers are more than happy to receive promotional offers via social channels. In fact, many people have had enough of being "friends" with your brand, now they want deals!

Recent research from Razorfish found that promotions and discounts were primary drivers of "friending" a brand for more than a third of social networking users and 44 percent of Twitter users. What's more, 79 percent of women say using social networks to research products and services is important to them, while 64 percent said the same thing about finding discounts, according to research from

The balance you need to strike is to not send out too many promotions -- or your followers will feel "marketed at" -- but not to be too stingy either. If you don't make it worth people's while to friend your brand by offering enticing deals just for them, then they'll likely get frustrated and stop following you. Remember, most people really don't want to be your friend, they just want deals -- and to feel rewarded for being loyal to your brand.

Here are some proven best practices to transform your social media programs from a brand-building exercise into a sales-building channel.

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joseph nese
joseph nese February 5, 2010 at 10:46 AM

I would like to learn more about utilizing Social media to grow my business. The article was an excellent read.