Frequently, I find myself responding to the following question:

“I understand that social media marketing is all about relationship building, but how do I measure ROI and justify my costs?”

If you Google “Social Media Success Stories” you generally find a lot of stories based on companies that are boasting the “success” they have had on social media platforms by engaging their customers. They feel they have achieved a higher level of success because they interact with people on their website.

Social media marketing DOES help you build relationships and communicate with your customers. However, customer interaction is something that you should already be doing – regardless of whether or not you are on social media. So, saying that social media marketing is JUST for customer relationship building can leave a lot to be desired.

Setting up a social networking platform falls along the lines of Marketing: 101. Go where your customers are. In this day and age, your customers are most likely on the internet. Statistics from 2010 show that there is over 1.97 billion people using the internet, and over 700 million people using Facebook and Twitter alone. LinkedIn itself has more than 100 million users, and it’s estimated that 22.7% of all internet usage is spent on social networking websites.

What does this mean? Well, you’re not necessarily bringing your business to these websites for “relationship building.” Instead, you’re bringing your business to where you customers are. Since I have already discussed that customer interaction and relationship building is an important concept in business -not just social networking-it’s safe to say that there has to be more to social networking than relationship building.

One of the concepts that I teach (and go into detail about in my CSNJ: Training Course) is that there are three aspects of social media marketing:

* Advertising – Social networking should be used as an advertising platform for new customer attraction and current customer up-selling. Although you are not participating in direct advertising methods, it’s still important to know a valuable aspect of social networking is to get your name to potential customers.

* Branding – Social networking should be used as a platform to demonstrate the high value of your business, and act as a go to place for people to see the personality behind your company. A company’s brand is the personality that defines the company and sets you apart from your competitors.

* Community – Social networking sites should be used to build a community around your company, where current/potential customers can connect with your business. This is a place where they can find new information, connect with each other, and interact with your company.

The last concept, the community building, is really about attracting people who are already set up on these platforms to your company. Just like a local brick-and-mortar store is going to try and locate itself on the busiest street in the community; you’re going to locate yourself on these platforms where your customers already are interacting. The key is to entice them to join your social networking campaigns.

Now, the concept of this article is not to show you how to build up your following. The concept you need to understand is that JUST setting up on these platforms for “relationship building” is going to end up hurting the TRUE concept behind social media marketing: You’re going where your customers are.

About The Author:

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