In a word, NO! Engagement should not be valued over sales in social media marketing. Engagement is simply part of the required functions of social media marketing that leads to Sales, but only when done properly.
A report published by eMarketer last year states that brands believe consumer engagement and brand lift were the number one goals of their social media marketing. Consumer engagement represented a 17% increase in this goal, which replaced “positive sentiment” as the number one goal just a year ago.
The study further shows that in 2011 increasing sales was the number one goal of social media marketing, yet it quickly dropped below 50% by 2012. Now brands seem to be even more confused on priorities, as increasing sales is now cited as the leading goal by 58% of the respondents.
These new statistics seem to indicate to me that many still don’t have an understanding of how social media marketing is best utilized at the brand level. It also makes me think that confusion and lack of proper strategy and execution make changing the primary goal of their efforts an easier migration, then actually achieving real results. Scary? I believe so…
In just three short years, brands have modified their social focus from actually achieving results from the channel to the fluffy measurement of likes, comments and shares as a metric of success. So the question is, should engagement be valued over sales, or should engagement combined with a proper strategy lead to a focused sales, revenue and ROI metric approach?
Here are some questions that I think should be answered by most brands:
1) Is the Effort vs Return worth the time spent to obtain engagement?
2) Are you seeking False Positives in the form of engagement in order to measure how well you are doing?
3) Is the Activity you are performing to achieve engagement appropriate?
4) Is your Strategy and Execution wrong, therefore leading you to focus on engagement instead of sales/revenue?
5) Have you defined your Target Audience appropriately in order to actually achieve sales/revenue?
6) Are you avoiding Sales and Revenue as a top priority because you don’t really know how to achieve that?
7) Are you Changing Your Goals year after year to fit what you ARE achieving, instead of adjusting what you are doing to achieve what you know you should?
I think there are some significant flaws in the thinking associated with this report by the brands that responded. I believe there is a disconnect in understanding effective social media marketing and how to do it. I believe that the limitations brands are self imposing, prevent them from actually doing social media marketing in a way that achieves real results.
What do you think?