There have been a few negative articles and blog posts floating around lately about how Twitter and Facebook don’t contribute directly to a company’s bottom line. However, these articles are missing the mark. First of all, there’s the notion that only “direct” contributions to revenue are valid. Meaning the only thing that fuels more purchases…is more purchases? Doesn’t really make sense form where I sit. Any brand out there is using multiple channels to fuel the bottom line. Twitter and Facebook are two possible channels that are not meant to close the sale; they are meant to bolster your online brand and they heavily contribute to search engine optimization for your website.

Trying to Hard-sell on Twitter and Facebook? You’re Doing it Wrong.

At the same time, if you’re not paying attention to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, any available social media, you’re missing the boat. The point is not to think of it as transactional, but value it as a market aggregator. Anyone with a Marketing 101 course under their belt knows that you can’t make the market, you have to go where your market is, and get your value proposition in front of that market.  While some of our clients have had excellent success with things like Facebook stores, they are using it to drive traffic and create product awareness. As the linked post says, Facebook stores are not a “magic bullet for instant sales.” Not every business has a product that will appeal to the younger demographic that’s on Facebook. While pushing out coupons and deals to your Twitter and Facebook feeds is a good idea, you shouldn’t expect to see a huge bump in sales from your efforts.  

People on Twitter and Facebook don’t like to feel like they’re being sold to; they want to feel like they’re part of a community, and if your product or service happens to align with their interests, you’ll make them happy and possibly win their business. If you’re constantly in their face with a “BUY NOW” message on social media, you’ll lose them quickly. Of course, any effort to sell your product is never wasted; you just have to remember to keep such efforts low key on social media.

Email Much Better Avenue for Direct Sales

People who have signed up for an email from your company are essentially signing up to eventually purchase your product or services. In a Wired article about email sales, it shows that email is “crushing” Twitter and Facebook in actually selling to customers. Not gonna lie, I totally represent that remark. When I get a 40% off coupon from the Gap Factory Outlet, I’m immediately in buy-mode, and looking for an opportunity to head to the store. Of course, selling is the purpose of an email campaign, and this is almost never the case with Facebook or Twitter. Email and social media are apples and oranges; they are different vehicles for different tasks. Social media influences purchasing decisions and emails can close the sale. You could make the bold assertion that social media has replaced the print ad (awareness) and email (transaction) has replaced the in-store salesperson.

How Social Media Influences Purchasing Decisions

Some of the statistics in this salesforce.com blog post about the social media purchase influences  are eye-opening. Twitter is the #1 online channel for influencing electronics purchase decisions. Facebook is the #1 online channel for influencing purchases of baby products. 38 million 13-80 year olds in the US stated that social media influenced their purchasing decisions. The list goes on, but you get the picture. Social media absolutely works for getting eyeballs on your company and your chance to garner positive reviews or respond to/overcome negative feedback.

Make Sure You’re Doing Social Media Right
Most negative feedback about social media comes from companies who establish a minimal presence on Facebook and Twitter without any expert advice to guide them. If you’re shouting out to an audience without really giving them anything, you will lose them. Another helpful statistic given in the blog post linked above is that 79% of people like a company’s Facebook page because they expect discounts, coupons, or incentives for doing so. If you’re not giving them something back for their likes, you will probably fail at social media. You also need to recruit bloggers in your niche to get them on your side; 44% of social media using women stated that their favourite bloggers influence their purchasing decision.

Twitter is often used as a customer service tool as well as a platform for your brand. Make sure you’re responding quickly to complaints or questions about your company to ensure you’re using Twitter effectively. To summarize, you’re using social media to influence purchasing decisions, and email campaigns to close the sale. Social media is your marketing; email is your transaction-stimulant. The numbers don’t lie…

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