If there was a single online marketer left who had any doubt whatsoever that social media marketing
is a completely different paradigm than the traditional old media models, it was thoroughly eradicated by no less of an authority than Gallup, Inc. The survey research organization, primarily famous for its political polls, covered over 17,000 social media users in an October 2010 survey and determined that simply placing a brand message on social media is a strategy that will inevitably fail. Instead marketers should leverage social networks combined with word of mouth to convince customers that the message is so valuable that it should be recommended to their social circle.
This result blows a hole in the theory that a brand's social network presence is going to result in sales from new customers. The actual value of the social media strategy is to generate the trusted recommendation from current to new customers, and it is these introductions that are responsible for the bulk of the sales increases. Gallup explains that social media efforts should be focused on the existing customers who show the highest measurable level of engagement with your company as they are the ones who are most likely to become your evangelists and spread the word of your brand far and wide. Another advantage is that these loyalists are the least likely group to criticize your business and in cases of mild to medium crises will actually step up and publicly defend you!
Your Supporters Won’t Diss You
Gallup found that fully 74% of these type of loyalists discussed their favored brands with their social cliques in a highly positive manner. One of the most stunning findings of this study is that of these 74% of loyalists not a single one of them had ever discussed that favored brand in anything but glowing terms. Statistically it beggars belief that you would have an absolute zero on a measurement of that type, but with the assurance of Gallup's long established polling accuracy it goes to show just how committed social media brand loyalists can actually be!
Engagement = Sales
The Gallup survey also strongly devalued metrics such as app downloads, followership and hashtags. The study points the way to an understanding that high sales are only achievable in the social universe via equally high levels of engagement. Gallup compared Apple to Microsoft and found that Apple had approximately three times the number of customers who can be considered “fully engaged” over their Redmond competitors. Since Apple has excelled in nurturing its social media aura at the expense of Microsoft, it becomes obvious that the Cupertino corporation's continued booming sales are built on a foundation of thorough engagement of their customer base, turning as many of them as possible into evangelists for the brand.
A Spouse Is 47x More Convincing than TV Ads
The statistics Gallup collected when determining the likelihood for individuals to rely on when deciding which brands to choose are extremely telling. While Facebook, Twitter, online paid ads and even television ads score around the 1% level, experts rank at 11%, and friends and parents at 12% each, with children outscoring those levels at 13% and the spouse at a stratospheric 47%. It then follows that if evangelizing a spouse is going to be 47 times as effective as placing an expensive television ad or even engaging on a Facebook Fan Page
, then the primary efforts of an online marketer are far better spent on what they call the Customer Engagement Hierarchy where the key elements are the rational elements associated with consumer satisfaction along with confidence, integrity, pride and passion.
Social media marketing can best be defined as a process of recruiting lay salespersons to bring you new customers. Concentrating on this factor is the best way to drive social sales.