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"Second place is a set of steak knives."
When Alec Baldwin's character lectured the sales team in Glengarry Glen Ross, he made it clear that the winner was the one on top, that everyone else was lucky to have a job, and that if they continued to perform the way they did they wouldn't have a job for much longer. The same holds true in social media. If you're not winning, you're losing, and all too often the strategies used in social media marketing are designed to lose.
I'm referring to branding. It's become too apparent over the last couple of years that many businesses and the social media companies that support them have turned branding into the ultimate goal of social media efforts. They believe that sales cannot be attained, that leads cannot be generated, and that trying to define the benefits is best left with something intangible like increased exposure of the brand. While this isn't completely wrong, it's selling the industry short. Social media can do so much more than branding.
In the automotive industry, for example, the goals of social media marketing should be first to drive foot traffic to the dealership. The 2nd place prize of every effort would be to drive website visitors. When all else fails, branding is the tertiary goal, the consolation prize. When that perspective is taken and an understanding is had that so much more can and should be done, the branding actually has the opportunity to flourish even more as a result.
Focus on business. Do the right things. Hire the right agencies, the ones that can demonstrate tangible ROI from their efforts rather than falling for the pitch that exposure is the best thing you can hope for. When branding becomes the top level goal, it's possible for one to be convinced that they should be posting funny cat pictures in order to get the exposure they need on social media. That couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, the goal is to get tangible benefit. Cat pictures won't do that.
Here's a video I did that highlights this myth and demonstrates why it's possible to have a proper hierarchy of goals to achieve the fullest level of success.