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Don’t Get Lost in the Social Media Fog

– By Matt Hodkinson

Why aren’t social media and the bottom line bosom buddies in your business?  It seems that ‘social media’ continues to be little more than a buzz word in many businesses today, despite the fad status being well-and-truly dismissed, and a myriad of digital platforms elbowing their way into our daily lives, as if it were forever thus.

fogWhen it comes to gaining true business benefit, however, and to leverage what has been billed as the marketing opportunity of a generation, why does digital elude so many from a results perspective?

The truth is, there’s a disconnect between what happens online and what happens in the business.  For a variety of motivations, many find themselves creating a series of social media profiles for themselves and their business – usually the main contenders of LinkedIn, Facebook Page, Twitter, and for the more progressive, Google+ – and go about putting their best effort into creating content for each.  With any luck, and if their content is compelling enough, they’ll achieve “Level 1” … Engagement.

Engagement is not Enough

Building an audience – even a highly targeted following of eager partners and prospects – can help any business to extend their reach and influence over their target market.  Causing a variety of engagement actions to take place – Likes, comments, shares – will extend that reach even further into the streams of “friends of friends” or 2nd, perhaps 3rd line contacts.  But engagement alone, no matter how much “brand awareness” it may cause, is not enough to affect the bottom line.  If only likes were pounds and pennies!

The Beginning of a Journey

One of the keys to success anywhere in the digital space is to create “customer journeys” – the path along which your prospects must travel, in order for them to connect with your business, and to move them from a state of unaware, past the research and comparison stages of the decision-making cycle, to purchase readiness.

This can be a lengthy process, but one which will often take no longer than the existing lead time on your sales from other channels.  Contacts newly-acquired from the digital space will often have come from a referral of sorts – this is especially true in social networking circles – but will still need nurturing and “warming up” – often the preserve of your email marketing efforts.

No Targets, No Metrics

Even the most discerning, number-crunching Chief Executives can often be found guilty of not setting targets or desired outcomes for their online efforts.  The uninitiated will often buy into the message from many a “social media guru” and target higher numbers of fans, followers, likes, retweets, etc.

But with our marketing hat firmly on, we must surely be looking at an increased number of leads, sales opportunities, and ultimately improved revenues as the markers by which our online success must be judged.  You would do it for that print advertising campaign, so why not for your LinkedIn Company Page?

Measuring the impact of your online interactions and content strategy is getting easier.  The integrations between social sites and analytics tools like Google Analytics make it easy to see which individual status updates and tweets, as well as which Twitter users, are responsible for the highest number of website visitors, and even to the amount of revenue resulting from those visits.  Even those with a relatively basic understanding of web analytics can quickly build into their business a “Social ROI” capability.

The happy by-product of having this level of insight at your fingertips is the optimisation factor – keep what’s working, and drop what isn’t.  Too many business owners and marketers stick with one campaign or social platform long after its ineffectiveness has been proven.  A regular review of your activities, supported by in-depth analytical data, will soon allow you to refine your participation, and maximise the time and money spent therein.

Here are 3 practical steps for improving your own ability to prove the return on your digital efforts:

1. Assume nothing – Use social search tools, such as to prove that your target market use certain platforms over others.  Don’t just flock to LinkedIn because you’re a B2B-focused business.  Often, the niche sites, forums and communities will offer more relevant members and a more targeted audience than the behemoths of the social networking world.

2. Start tracking your links – Use a service such as to shorten and track clicks on the URLs you share in your blog posts, status updates and tweets.  You’ll soon learn, over time, which topics and what tone of voice best resonates with your connections, based on the popularity of each.

3. Get friendly with analytics – Make sure your web analytics solution is giving you information sufficient to prove or deny the effectiveness of your social media efforts in sending valuable traffic to your website.  Be sure to give visitors the option to opt in to your database or email marketing list, and choose an appropriate follow-up sequence to nurture those new leads.

Make the connection between social media and your true business goals to elevate your business to digital success. For example, one of our clients in the IT services space found that their target market were responding more to messages on the subject of cloud security than anything else – often getting 200% more click-throughs when compared to any other topic.  Armed with this insight, they launched a lead generation campaign using an eBook they wrote on the subject as bait.  Their inbound leads doubled, month-on-month.


Matt HodkinsonMatt Hodkinson is Founder and CEO at Influence Agents – an Inbound Marketing Agency helping professional service firms to generate increased volumes of highly-targeted traffic, leads and loyal clients, through effective use of social media and digital strategy.


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