The sixth question companies ask about social media

I was just reading TechMeme and saw that Jeremiah Owyang has a great post on the five questions that companies ask about social media.

I have a sixth one: “how will doing this help my sales?”

How do I know that? A multi-billion-dollar-a-year company just asked me that.

Yeah, that’s similar to #2 on Jeremiah’s list, but gets much more directly to the point.

Of course, this is a question that isn’t answerable. Even if you think you can answer it, this is “code” for a way to tell the person asking to please go away and don’t come back.

Why do I say that?

Because there’s no way to prove that ANYTHING a business does will lead to more sales.

Even those “pay per click” ads on Google aren’t guaranteed to increase sales.

Quick, name one thing that’s GUARANTEED to increase sales at any company. Any one that you could come up with I could say “um, no” to if I wanted to.

And, anyway, companies do things that aren’t directly tied to sales all the time.

How about those press releases that the same big company just sent me. The speeches at conferences that this big company does all the time. The sign on the side of their Silicon Valley office. Does that increase sales? Cost a lot of money.

How about the security equipment that you have to pass through in its lobby. Did that increase sales?

How about the CEO’s nice windows in his office? Did those increase sales?

Ahh, but I do like hearing this form of no. It makes my creative juices run and they are giving us a chance with another meeting, which is better than hearing “hell no, now get out of my office.”

How do I answer this? Well, why did a guy who is selling $50 million a year in wine take half a year away from his business to learn to do this? He told me that it cost his business $24,000 per day that he was away in lost sales. Ask him today about the impact of that investment on his business and he sure is smiling a lot lately. But, can he prove that it increased sales? Why, yes he can, but then he took the time to do it and not say “I’ll only do this if it increases sales.”

How would you answer that question?

Best answer left here gets a new Seagate/Maxtor 160 GB BlackArmor hard drive. Encrypts all your stuff so if it gets stolen no one can break into it.

Comments

  1. Because no one in the industry was even trying, and he could see the power and ROI that social media can give, as well as bring in customer relationships that traditional ads and PR can never do.

    Gary jumped in, and he owns it. I want my employers to meet him.

  2. Because no one in the industry was even trying, and he could see the power and ROI that social media can give, as well as bring in customer relationships that traditional ads and PR can never do.

    Gary jumped in, and he owns it. I want my employers to meet him.

  3. SMM increases targeted traffic by 1) generating traffic from niche communities that want to buy what you sell and 2) increasing organic traffic through SEO side effects. ( I would then give an example of how a site I did a SMM campaign for is still generating over 1000 unique visitors a day through organic search without any SMM for the past 8 months )

    Targeted traffic (leads) combined with an efficient sales process will result in increased sales.

  4. SMM increases targeted traffic by 1) generating traffic from niche communities that want to buy what you sell and 2) increasing organic traffic through SEO side effects. ( I would then give an example of how a site I did a SMM campaign for is still generating over 1000 unique visitors a day through organic search without any SMM for the past 8 months )

    Targeted traffic (leads) combined with an efficient sales process will result in increased sales.

  5. ThinkingSerious: I agree, but now prove it to a big-company executive who isn’t interested in spending money with you to build such a campaign. The clued in already get this and are already spending the money. The clueless? They’ll find 1000 excuses why what you are telling them isn’t guaranteed and isn’t real and won’t apply to their business anyway, or that the results will be too small. I know some arrogant types at big companies who would answer “1,000 uniques a day? I can’t even get out of bed in the morning for such a low number.”

  6. ThinkingSerious: I agree, but now prove it to a big-company executive who isn’t interested in spending money with you to build such a campaign. The clued in already get this and are already spending the money. The clueless? They’ll find 1000 excuses why what you are telling them isn’t guaranteed and isn’t real and won’t apply to their business anyway, or that the results will be too small. I know some arrogant types at big companies who would answer “1,000 uniques a day? I can’t even get out of bed in the morning for such a low number.”

  7. “how will doing this help my sales?”

    Short answer: No.
    Longer answer: Your question betrays an incorrect assumption and is therefore incorrect or meaningless. If your goal is to ethically defend the deserved reputation of your business, then the question is “how much will it cost me to establish and defend myself in the wild west that is web2.0?”

  8. “how will doing this help my sales?”

    Short answer: No.
    Longer answer: Your question betrays an incorrect assumption and is therefore incorrect or meaningless. If your goal is to ethically defend the deserved reputation of your business, then the question is “how much will it cost me to establish and defend myself in the wild west that is web2.0?”

  9. In that case I would use examples of bigger companies. The key is to quantify the example and to use an example that the person you are talking to relates to. Just requires a bit of HW.

  10. In that case I would use examples of bigger companies. The key is to quantify the example and to use an example that the person you are talking to relates to. Just requires a bit of HW.

  11. Richard: I don’t agree with your answer. I’ve seen a DIRECT correlation between social media and sales. All I have to do is look at all the Nokia N95 cell phones that are showing up at conferences lately (people have come up to me and said they bought theirs to do videos just like I’m doing).

  12. Richard: I don’t agree with your answer. I’ve seen a DIRECT correlation between social media and sales. All I have to do is look at all the Nokia N95 cell phones that are showing up at conferences lately (people have come up to me and said they bought theirs to do videos just like I’m doing).

  13. Two quick points:
    (1) Reducing prices (pretty much guarantees increased sales – especially if your product is good, but you may not increase profits – which is a trickier thing altogether).
    (2) On the money question, when you engage in 2.0 technologies the aim of the company is to expand reach, increase (+ve) sentiment – through the most powerful marketing/advertising strategy which is personal recommendation and brand endorsement. Admittedly the statistics aren’t available yet (neither is there the technology – nor legal route around the privacy issue) to really track how deeply this “known” phenomena is operating in the Web 2.0 sphere. Fact remains, anecdotally your wine seller is probably being approached by more customers who are “personal recomendations” and he is probably satisfied that he able of penetrating beyond his customers into their friend networks.

  14. Two quick points:
    (1) Reducing prices (pretty much guarantees increased sales – especially if your product is good, but you may not increase profits – which is a trickier thing altogether).
    (2) On the money question, when you engage in 2.0 technologies the aim of the company is to expand reach, increase (+ve) sentiment – through the most powerful marketing/advertising strategy which is personal recommendation and brand endorsement. Admittedly the statistics aren’t available yet (neither is there the technology – nor legal route around the privacy issue) to really track how deeply this “known” phenomena is operating in the Web 2.0 sphere. Fact remains, anecdotally your wine seller is probably being approached by more customers who are “personal recomendations” and he is probably satisfied that he able of penetrating beyond his customers into their friend networks.

  15. “how will doing this help my sales?”

    Would you rather buy something from someone you know, or from someone you don’t know? Social media is about personal relationships. Sometimes tenuous, to be sure, but still a relationship. When your customers (current and future) get to know you because you’ve engaged them in one flavor of social media or another (and ideally more than one), they’re going to be more likely to buy what you’re selling when they need it (or think they need it).

    So, yes, it will help your sales – if you do it right. And that’s where the learning curve sits waiting for you.

  16. “how will doing this help my sales?”

    Would you rather buy something from someone you know, or from someone you don’t know? Social media is about personal relationships. Sometimes tenuous, to be sure, but still a relationship. When your customers (current and future) get to know you because you’ve engaged them in one flavor of social media or another (and ideally more than one), they’re going to be more likely to buy what you’re selling when they need it (or think they need it).

    So, yes, it will help your sales – if you do it right. And that’s where the learning curve sits waiting for you.

  17. we need for the dinosaurs to die, that is what allows progress. don’t try to convince them there is a better way, merely allow them to suicide while you build the better way. it is how a forest works.

  18. we need for the dinosaurs to die, that is what allows progress. don’t try to convince them there is a better way, merely allow them to suicide while you build the better way. it is how a forest works.

  19. Intangible assets generate intangible results.

    That’s what I’d say. And if that doesn’t work, move on to your next client–and fast.

  20. Intangible assets generate intangible results.

    That’s what I’d say. And if that doesn’t work, move on to your next client–and fast.

  21. Intangible assets generate intangible results.

    That’s what I would say. If that doesn’t work, I’d move on to the client–and fast.

  22. Intangible assets generate intangible results.

    That’s what I would say. If that doesn’t work, I’d move on to the client–and fast.

  23. The long answer (this is pretty much the same as the one I give when asked about how much return any new external marketing or communications activity will generate):

    1) Can’t say for sure. Can put together some scenarios, based on logical assumptions and return from similar activity for other clients – but the only way to find out it to pilot, test and measure.
    2) That the only way they’re going to find out, learn and move forward, is to bite the bullet and try it. Watching and listening to their competitors are doing won’t tell them – because these are different brands/ offerings/ messages/ target markets and that different set of circumstances will produce different results.
    3) That they have to be in the running regardless, or be left behind and struggle to catch up later.

    This is a much easier argument than it is for investment in more traditional media though, since you reach a far wider audience at a much reduced cost per person with social media. And it’s self-perpetuating, evolving and organic like nothing else, so it keeps on working for you long after you’ve made that initial investment. For charities (my clients), it’s a great medium to create brand advocates to spread the message for them.

    Short answer: Any activity that gets your brand out there, whether people respond directly to it or not, will build awareness of your brand, and this will lead to increased sales – at some point. Unless your product or service and/ or brand messages and values aren’t attractive to anyone!

    Also: It’s more trackable and measurable than most traditional above the line/ broadcast advertising – but they don’t have a problem investing in that! They’ll save money on market research and product development because they can use the communities they’ve built as focus groups.

  24. The long answer (this is pretty much the same as the one I give when asked about how much return any new external marketing or communications activity will generate):

    1) Can’t say for sure. Can put together some scenarios, based on logical assumptions and return from similar activity for other clients – but the only way to find out it to pilot, test and measure.
    2) That the only way they’re going to find out, learn and move forward, is to bite the bullet and try it. Watching and listening to their competitors are doing won’t tell them – because these are different brands/ offerings/ messages/ target markets and that different set of circumstances will produce different results.
    3) That they have to be in the running regardless, or be left behind and struggle to catch up later.

    This is a much easier argument than it is for investment in more traditional media though, since you reach a far wider audience at a much reduced cost per person with social media. And it’s self-perpetuating, evolving and organic like nothing else, so it keeps on working for you long after you’ve made that initial investment. For charities (my clients), it’s a great medium to create brand advocates to spread the message for them.

    Short answer: Any activity that gets your brand out there, whether people respond directly to it or not, will build awareness of your brand, and this will lead to increased sales – at some point. Unless your product or service and/ or brand messages and values aren’t attractive to anyone!

    Also: It’s more trackable and measurable than most traditional above the line/ broadcast advertising – but they don’t have a problem investing in that! They’ll save money on market research and product development because they can use the communities they’ve built as focus groups.

  25. Robert, the sales you refer to belong to the enabling product, the nokia, not the users of the nokia… I though the question was asked by users e.g. how live phonecasting would increase their sales.

    So, we can prove social media increases sales for enablers of social media.
    I presume Nokia is not asking the question, and maybe that’s my mistake.

  26. Robert, the sales you refer to belong to the enabling product, the nokia, not the users of the nokia… I though the question was asked by users e.g. how live phonecasting would increase their sales.

    So, we can prove social media increases sales for enablers of social media.
    I presume Nokia is not asking the question, and maybe that’s my mistake.

  27. Robert, that is a valid question or how does it reduce my costs..Whether we like it or not, social media is too “soft” a value proposition

    In contrast, every CEO who sees a Cisco Telepresence demo wants it. Most CFOs who crunch the numbers can show quick payback particularly in intl airfare reduction. The CIO does not even need to help sell.

    . The 7th, 8th, 9th , 10th, etc question I would be a is how does this stack against an investment in telepresence, in telemetry (sensors, GPS etc), in virtualization, in a data center consolidation, in predictive analytics, in green computing… companies have finite budgets and bandwidth for new IT projects. and social media is competing with other technology projects…

    .there are more people hyping up and hoping social media – But after 3 years of trying it still sounds like a solution looking for early sponsors not a solution with a compelling value proposition

  28. Robert, that is a valid question or how does it reduce my costs..Whether we like it or not, social media is too “soft” a value proposition

    In contrast, every CEO who sees a Cisco Telepresence demo wants it. Most CFOs who crunch the numbers can show quick payback particularly in intl airfare reduction. The CIO does not even need to help sell.

    . The 7th, 8th, 9th , 10th, etc question I would be a is how does this stack against an investment in telepresence, in telemetry (sensors, GPS etc), in virtualization, in a data center consolidation, in predictive analytics, in green computing… companies have finite budgets and bandwidth for new IT projects. and social media is competing with other technology projects…

    .there are more people hyping up and hoping social media – But after 3 years of trying it still sounds like a solution looking for early sponsors not a solution with a compelling value proposition

  29. Down south, we always take some work time in the spring to bring TVs to work to watch the ACC (basketball, to the rest of you). Having the game in-house in a familiar medium makes workers happy and does more for morale than any ‘exercises.’ TV at work? Always been a hot-button issue for employers.

    My web 2.0, no-land-line daughter watches TV (tivo’ed at home) to catch up on what the buyers of her company’s products watch and listen to. Then she grabs an idea, mixes up the product (more about that if you want; involves teams) and uses all the social platforms (blogs, YahooAnswers, groups, twitter, you name it) to share the product with the new cool name and timely (oh, TIMELY is the key) hook to something they’re talking about on Oprah or another such show. As much as her creativity was key, timing mattered as much. Business – the teams – have to respond fast to use social media to increase sales.

    Fact: sales increased huge-fold on that current product that was mixed into a new one and spiked the stats on the ecommerce site with a huge reduction in abandoned shopping carts. Measurable stats. It’s building the social method of prompting key sales efforts. Kid gets to blog for work and as-yet-no-video tools in-house (but it’s coming because they just got some Macs) campaign results in promotable products available after being repackaged and those products that you can tie into national events are selling like hotcakes. Numbers back it up; company is happy. Wants her to “do it again.” She gets TV in office and is getting video and an SMS campaign and the team liked working in a fast environment from a great idea.

    Don’t want to out her or her business on your blog but if you give me a call or email, I’ll send you details. Both my kids are in this sort of industry in different states. We talk about it all the time. I showed them Twitter and they showed me stats and sales figures and how to make a channel at every video sharing site around.

  30. Down south, we always take some work time in the spring to bring TVs to work to watch the ACC (basketball, to the rest of you). Having the game in-house in a familiar medium makes workers happy and does more for morale than any ‘exercises.’ TV at work? Always been a hot-button issue for employers.

    My web 2.0, no-land-line daughter watches TV (tivo’ed at home) to catch up on what the buyers of her company’s products watch and listen to. Then she grabs an idea, mixes up the product (more about that if you want; involves teams) and uses all the social platforms (blogs, YahooAnswers, groups, twitter, you name it) to share the product with the new cool name and timely (oh, TIMELY is the key) hook to something they’re talking about on Oprah or another such show. As much as her creativity was key, timing mattered as much. Business – the teams – have to respond fast to use social media to increase sales.

    Fact: sales increased huge-fold on that current product that was mixed into a new one and spiked the stats on the ecommerce site with a huge reduction in abandoned shopping carts. Measurable stats. It’s building the social method of prompting key sales efforts. Kid gets to blog for work and as-yet-no-video tools in-house (but it’s coming because they just got some Macs) campaign results in promotable products available after being repackaged and those products that you can tie into national events are selling like hotcakes. Numbers back it up; company is happy. Wants her to “do it again.” She gets TV in office and is getting video and an SMS campaign and the team liked working in a fast environment from a great idea.

    Don’t want to out her or her business on your blog but if you give me a call or email, I’ll send you details. Both my kids are in this sort of industry in different states. We talk about it all the time. I showed them Twitter and they showed me stats and sales figures and how to make a channel at every video sharing site around.

  31. Robert – is there any data other than anecdotal evidence? Studies, done with rigor, go a long way towards convincing people rather than saying “I saw a bunch of people…”

  32. Robert – is there any data other than anecdotal evidence? Studies, done with rigor, go a long way towards convincing people rather than saying “I saw a bunch of people…”

  33. Its that ‘sales conversation’ in context of the conversation that affects sales..

    For example ads on facebook do not work because they never enter the context of the conversation.. however..pay for services sales at LinkediN work because the sale is context of the ocurring conversation..

  34. Its that ‘sales conversation’ in context of the conversation that affects sales..

    For example ads on facebook do not work because they never enter the context of the conversation.. however..pay for services sales at LinkediN work because the sale is context of the ocurring conversation..

  35. Richard’s on to something – I would tell the company that sixth question is the wrong question to ask – then quickly explain to them how conversations and stories sell products. This would be easy enough to back up with articles and possibly even research (ie., charts). And I’m not talking about digital at this point – just normal, non-web conversation and story – anything from viral marketing (non digital) to floor sales staff sharing that heartwarming story about how their product met someone else’s needs (and closes the sale).

    Then, you can easily step into the digital space, and show how social networking and 2.0 is not about technology – it’s all about enabling MORE conversations and MORE stories. Stories about YOUR product.

    Then end your pitch this way – tell them that conversations about their product are already happening (you can probably show it via blogs, twitter, forum conversations). They have the opportunity to LEAD those conversations via social networks, and by starting, participating in, and finishing those conversations.

    That’s what I’d do, anyway… works in libraries!

  36. Richard’s on to something – I would tell the company that sixth question is the wrong question to ask – then quickly explain to them how conversations and stories sell products. This would be easy enough to back up with articles and possibly even research (ie., charts). And I’m not talking about digital at this point – just normal, non-web conversation and story – anything from viral marketing (non digital) to floor sales staff sharing that heartwarming story about how their product met someone else’s needs (and closes the sale).

    Then, you can easily step into the digital space, and show how social networking and 2.0 is not about technology – it’s all about enabling MORE conversations and MORE stories. Stories about YOUR product.

    Then end your pitch this way – tell them that conversations about their product are already happening (you can probably show it via blogs, twitter, forum conversations). They have the opportunity to LEAD those conversations via social networks, and by starting, participating in, and finishing those conversations.

    That’s what I’d do, anyway… works in libraries!

  37. In my opinion, the only sure factor that can be tied to increases sales/revenue is supply/demand. I could also argue for “location, location, location,” but, on the Internet, that is irrelevant.

    In pre-web business, consumers would generally buy the least expensive product that fit their demand. But now with Web 2.0, many products (demands) are fulfilled by free services (Gmail, Twitter, Skype etc.). So demand in terms of cost/benefit analysis is also out the window on the web.

    But supply of products is still a factor. The technologies/products with the best/most features win. People use Google and click its ads because it can search basically everything effectively; conversely, people do not use Windows Live search (except accidentally of course) because it cannot keep up with Google’s features which fulfill various demands of a Web 2.0 society.

    Companies that supply social media features that fit Web 2.0 or other demands and monetize those features most likely free services will see increased revenue. Simple old traditional supply-side economics.

  38. In my opinion, the only sure factor that can be tied to increases sales/revenue is supply/demand. I could also argue for “location, location, location,” but, on the Internet, that is irrelevant.

    In pre-web business, consumers would generally buy the least expensive product that fit their demand. But now with Web 2.0, many products (demands) are fulfilled by free services (Gmail, Twitter, Skype etc.). So demand in terms of cost/benefit analysis is also out the window on the web.

    But supply of products is still a factor. The technologies/products with the best/most features win. People use Google and click its ads because it can search basically everything effectively; conversely, people do not use Windows Live search (except accidentally of course) because it cannot keep up with Google’s features which fulfill various demands of a Web 2.0 society.

    Companies that supply social media features that fit Web 2.0 or other demands and monetize those features most likely free services will see increased revenue. Simple old traditional supply-side economics.

  39. Robert: The funny thing is, having already made the sale (I bought an N95 back in November), the difficult marketing job now will be getting it out of my coat pocket once in a while to take the place of the iPhone I bought the following month!

    When I first compared the two on paper, the N95 blew the iPhone away: more bandwidth, better camera, fewer restrictions … yet it just sits forgotten, usually with a flat battery, while the iPhone gets constant use. It’s a crucial lesson, I think: build a compact handset with every feature you could possibly want, shackle it to a clunky braindead UI and you have an expensive shiny paperweight. It’s a shame: if Nokia had just put in the little bit of extra effort to give it a *responsive* UI, I’d be far, far happier with it.

    It’s interesting to note “they bought theirs to do videos”, which tends to confirm my impression: as a phone, it’s a miserable failure – it’s just good at streaming video.

  40. Robert: The funny thing is, having already made the sale (I bought an N95 back in November), the difficult marketing job now will be getting it out of my coat pocket once in a while to take the place of the iPhone I bought the following month!

    When I first compared the two on paper, the N95 blew the iPhone away: more bandwidth, better camera, fewer restrictions … yet it just sits forgotten, usually with a flat battery, while the iPhone gets constant use. It’s a crucial lesson, I think: build a compact handset with every feature you could possibly want, shackle it to a clunky braindead UI and you have an expensive shiny paperweight. It’s a shame: if Nokia had just put in the little bit of extra effort to give it a *responsive* UI, I’d be far, far happier with it.

    It’s interesting to note “they bought theirs to do videos”, which tends to confirm my impression: as a phone, it’s a miserable failure – it’s just good at streaming video.

  41. I like to use a few examples from a very, very similar battle with those old school CEO’s about 10yrs ago during that whole “brick and mortor” time. Yep, that was fun. They always had the same question because people do buy in the store, the demos prove it. But, why would investing in a e-commerce site lead to sales.

    Shove that in his face, of course with a little more data, and I think any CEO would be stupid not to pickup what you are putting down!

  42. I like to use a few examples from a very, very similar battle with those old school CEO’s about 10yrs ago during that whole “brick and mortor” time. Yep, that was fun. They always had the same question because people do buy in the store, the demos prove it. But, why would investing in a e-commerce site lead to sales.

    Shove that in his face, of course with a little more data, and I think any CEO would be stupid not to pickup what you are putting down!

  43. Social Media will help increase sales in the same way training a salesman to connect with his customers, work the pipeline, deliver effective presentations, followup, work the pipeline and maintain relationship does. Except this is teaching the organization to do the same with is customer base as a whole. By making these same sort of connections as an organization the effective is tremendous in increasing sales just as an effective salesman, properly trained, and relationally competent grows in his customer base, sales, and retention.

  44. Social Media will help increase sales in the same way training a salesman to connect with his customers, work the pipeline, deliver effective presentations, followup, work the pipeline and maintain relationship does. Except this is teaching the organization to do the same with is customer base as a whole. By making these same sort of connections as an organization the effective is tremendous in increasing sales just as an effective salesman, properly trained, and relationally competent grows in his customer base, sales, and retention.

  45. Robert,

    Good question. IMO, big companies need to see other big companies having success using social media.

    The answer to the question is that we’ve seen it work – just look at the Levi Project 501 case study.

    In short the results were:

    “Social media drove 38% of the awareness about the campaign as compared to 30% of awareness coming from TV and low single digits for everything else.

    During the five weeks that the program was running, the top 5 selling products changed from traditional products to the featured products. The traditional core products had a price point of about 44 dollars and sold to an older demographic. The products featured in the campaign were Levi store exclusive, more fashion forward and had price range of 58 to 70 dollars. Literally overnight they got a different demographic and a sales lift that made a measurable impact on sales.

    Once the campaign ended, the top 5 selling products switched back to the traditional top 5 selling products.”

    The last point indicates that social media needs to be more than a campaign, it needs to be built into the fabric of everyday marketing to have sustained impact.

    Best

    Alex
    Alex Nesbitt
    Digital Podcast

  46. Robert,

    Good question. IMO, big companies need to see other big companies having success using social media.

    The answer to the question is that we’ve seen it work – just look at the Levi Project 501 case study.

    In short the results were:

    “Social media drove 38% of the awareness about the campaign as compared to 30% of awareness coming from TV and low single digits for everything else.

    During the five weeks that the program was running, the top 5 selling products changed from traditional products to the featured products. The traditional core products had a price point of about 44 dollars and sold to an older demographic. The products featured in the campaign were Levi store exclusive, more fashion forward and had price range of 58 to 70 dollars. Literally overnight they got a different demographic and a sales lift that made a measurable impact on sales.

    Once the campaign ended, the top 5 selling products switched back to the traditional top 5 selling products.”

    The last point indicates that social media needs to be more than a campaign, it needs to be built into the fabric of everyday marketing to have sustained impact.

    Best

    Alex
    Alex Nesbitt
    Digital Podcast

  47. No one would deny that “word-of-mouth” won’t help increase sales. This “social media” is just word-of-mouth advertising with a new distribution system. Granted, it may be limited in scope and you have to doubly remain wary about the narrow demographics, pandering egos and over-hyped nature of it all, but not playing the game is no answer either.

    The best way to increase sales is to let your current customers do most of the talking. Anytime anyone anywhere is talking about your product, even in a pro/con way, it will help increase sales, whether it be the local Kiwani’s Club or even a buncha self-important stuffy bloggers.

  48. No one would deny that “word-of-mouth” won’t help increase sales. This “social media” is just word-of-mouth advertising with a new distribution system. Granted, it may be limited in scope and you have to doubly remain wary about the narrow demographics, pandering egos and over-hyped nature of it all, but not playing the game is no answer either.

    The best way to increase sales is to let your current customers do most of the talking. Anytime anyone anywhere is talking about your product, even in a pro/con way, it will help increase sales, whether it be the local Kiwani’s Club or even a buncha self-important stuffy bloggers.

  49. There’s always activities that are difficult to measure (i.e. changing the signage in a store, for instance), those activities have always existed.

    And yet, Social Media folks sometimes are frightened when challenged to provide something. You can prove that this stuff does or does not work, I’ve done both.

    It is easy to say it cannot be measured or proven, it eliminates accountability. It is a rush to prove it does work, so try!!

  50. There’s always activities that are difficult to measure (i.e. changing the signage in a store, for instance), those activities have always existed.

    And yet, Social Media folks sometimes are frightened when challenged to provide something. You can prove that this stuff does or does not work, I’ve done both.

    It is easy to say it cannot be measured or proven, it eliminates accountability. It is a rush to prove it does work, so try!!

  51. Glad you raised this question directly and upfront – the worst is that.. they ask Why dont you find way to increase our sales (not footfalls) in the outlet near to your house thru social media?

  52. Glad you raised this question directly and upfront – the worst is that.. they ask Why dont you find way to increase our sales (not footfalls) in the outlet near to your house thru social media?

  53. Permission to extend…

    First of all media isn’t social, but people are, this is just people talking about your product, nothing new over advertising or any other process. People talking works, people not talking doesn’t work, just online, you have a greater expansion, with the caveat, of those that, are (and live) online.

    You can pound on head with advertising, or you can go hard-sell pressure, will see results for a bit, but then you have to continually hit that drug with ever-increasing levels to see the same starting metrics. Best way, is getting your user base, to do the hard work for you. They already trust your product, and people trust them (well minus the shrills), you are already halfway in.

    Do and then talk to the people who talk, and talk to people who don’t talk, just talk and talk, but forget not the do. Talking without doing, is well, just talking. ‘Actions speak Louder’ as they say.

  54. Permission to extend…

    First of all media isn’t social, but people are, this is just people talking about your product, nothing new over advertising or any other process. People talking works, people not talking doesn’t work, just online, you have a greater expansion, with the caveat, of those that, are (and live) online.

    You can pound on head with advertising, or you can go hard-sell pressure, will see results for a bit, but then you have to continually hit that drug with ever-increasing levels to see the same starting metrics. Best way, is getting your user base, to do the hard work for you. They already trust your product, and people trust them (well minus the shrills), you are already halfway in.

    Do and then talk to the people who talk, and talk to people who don’t talk, just talk and talk, but forget not the do. Talking without doing, is well, just talking. ‘Actions speak Louder’ as they say.

  55. There is really only one practical answer to this question that encompasses all scenarios:

    Q: “Will engaging in social media increase my sales?”
    A: “That depends – WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?”

    Interesting you chose @garyvee as your example; let’s dissect that a little bit.

    Gary’s business is wine, more generally, alcohol. Everyone knows and understands that alcohol companies generally target the college-age crowd as one of their main demographics. Why? Because every year millions of people turn 21, and their alcohol tastes and preferences are formed generally in those early adult years. They also consume the greatest quantity of their product.

    Gary understood that the MySpace and Facebook phenomenon was being fueled by people in his target market, or younger. For Gary, he is simply using the latest and greatest technology to engage his audience and build brand awareness as they come of legal drinking age. Will that carry over to increased sales? Only Gary can answer that question.

    Let’s assume now, that the company who asked you this question was Depends undergarments. With the exception of a few seniors (Bob Bly and BillTheEditor perhaps), there are not, and probably won’t be, too many seniors in this media any time in the near future. Will engaging in social media result in more sales? Probably not today. Perhaps in 40 years as we are yelling at the whippersnappers that volunteer at the old folks home to not wheel our chairs so fast down the hall, all the while being nostalgic about the Facebook/Twitter/Friendfeed days, we’ll all be wearing Depends, and talking about our brand awareness was built there. But increase in sales in the near term? Not hardly.

    Therefore, the only logical answer to that question is dependent on the company, and its target market or audience.

  56. There is really only one practical answer to this question that encompasses all scenarios:

    Q: “Will engaging in social media increase my sales?”
    A: “That depends – WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?”

    Interesting you chose @garyvee as your example; let’s dissect that a little bit.

    Gary’s business is wine, more generally, alcohol. Everyone knows and understands that alcohol companies generally target the college-age crowd as one of their main demographics. Why? Because every year millions of people turn 21, and their alcohol tastes and preferences are formed generally in those early adult years. They also consume the greatest quantity of their product.

    Gary understood that the MySpace and Facebook phenomenon was being fueled by people in his target market, or younger. For Gary, he is simply using the latest and greatest technology to engage his audience and build brand awareness as they come of legal drinking age. Will that carry over to increased sales? Only Gary can answer that question.

    Let’s assume now, that the company who asked you this question was Depends undergarments. With the exception of a few seniors (Bob Bly and BillTheEditor perhaps), there are not, and probably won’t be, too many seniors in this media any time in the near future. Will engaging in social media result in more sales? Probably not today. Perhaps in 40 years as we are yelling at the whippersnappers that volunteer at the old folks home to not wheel our chairs so fast down the hall, all the while being nostalgic about the Facebook/Twitter/Friendfeed days, we’ll all be wearing Depends, and talking about our brand awareness was built there. But increase in sales in the near term? Not hardly.

    Therefore, the only logical answer to that question is dependent on the company, and its target market or audience.

  57. Richard, the B2B and B2C worlds are also pretty different for this. Even in the B2B world there are some tangible ways to measure “sales” resulting from social media. I put together a really quick list of things I would measure for three goals:
    1. Selling to new people.
    2. Selling more to an existing customer.
    3. Selling more to an existing account.

    I think those three things are goals a Sales or Marketing executive would nod their heads on. Then it’s about how they would define success. Any strategy, social media or otherwise won’t be as successful as it can be without this definition. After that it’s the how to do it and how to measure it. I put details in a post on this (formatting is easier that way to break things up): http://blog.bulldogsolutions.com/2008/06/08/trying-to-answer-richard-scobles-sixth-question-companies-ask-about-social-media/

  58. Richard, the B2B and B2C worlds are also pretty different for this. Even in the B2B world there are some tangible ways to measure “sales” resulting from social media. I put together a really quick list of things I would measure for three goals:
    1. Selling to new people.
    2. Selling more to an existing customer.
    3. Selling more to an existing account.

    I think those three things are goals a Sales or Marketing executive would nod their heads on. Then it’s about how they would define success. Any strategy, social media or otherwise won’t be as successful as it can be without this definition. After that it’s the how to do it and how to measure it. I put details in a post on this (formatting is easier that way to break things up): http://blog.bulldogsolutions.com/2008/06/08/trying-to-answer-richard-scobles-sixth-question-companies-ask-about-social-media/

  59. I am sure you can measure sales leads and conversions resulting from social media efforts. The Internet is imminently measurable, and referrals and conversion percentages are the first clues of success. We measured Goodwill if Greater Washington’s social media effort last year, and saw direct sales results.

  60. I am sure you can measure sales leads and conversions resulting from social media efforts. The Internet is imminently measurable, and referrals and conversion percentages are the first clues of success. We measured Goodwill if Greater Washington’s social media effort last year, and saw direct sales results.

  61. The one-word answer is “Loyalty.” The two word answer is “Feedback loop.”

    By opening communication channels between your employees and customers, your employees get direct feedback on what they’re doing right and wrong. Your customers get a sense of control over what they’re buying. Engaged customers are much more likely to come back again.

  62. The one-word answer is “Loyalty.” The two word answer is “Feedback loop.”

    By opening communication channels between your employees and customers, your employees get direct feedback on what they’re doing right and wrong. Your customers get a sense of control over what they’re buying. Engaged customers are much more likely to come back again.

  63. Basic economics and trust! Social media like many other forms of marketing feeds sales.

    Sales are a transaction of trust. The company trusts that their product is desirable (or necessary) enough for the customer to demand it. When the customer trusts the company and their product enough to supply their demand they make the purchase and the sales transaction happens.

    Social media builds trust – the lubricant of good business. High levels of trust make business easier. Low levels make it more difficult.

    A company and their products will be discussed in the social media “marketplace” whether the company contributes or not. It is not much different from the ancient forums or agoras where business was discussed by word of mouth and rumors and gossip spread. Today the niches of society are electronically connected and able to act quicker because of it.

    Ignoring the growing marketplace that social media facilitates means missed opportunities. Participating where the market is at is key to survival. Even to just keep up with the competition who are embracing social media.

  64. how will doing this help my sales?

    Because if you don’t, you will surely lose sales and customers to the competitions that do adopt social media. We have witnessed the revolution of search marketing and how search has changed the way people find products and services. When was the last time anyone opened a yellow page to find an address or phone number to a business? It’s hard to imagine any billion-dollar companies still haven’t adopt search marketing today but 10 years ago, it was unheard of.

    Social media is the next revolution. It will be another powerful form of advertising medium whether companies want to adopt it or not because like search, it is in the user/customer control. The customers decide which blogs to read, where to read comments or reviews about product, which social networking site to be a part of, etc. It is the companies that need to follow their customers, not the other way around. The question to ask is not whether social media will help my sales but how much sales will I lose.

  65. Basic economics and trust! Social media like many other forms of marketing feeds sales.

    Sales are a transaction of trust. The company trusts that their product is desirable (or necessary) enough for the customer to demand it. When the customer trusts the company and their product enough to supply their demand they make the purchase and the sales transaction happens.

    Social media builds trust – the lubricant of good business. High levels of trust make business easier. Low levels make it more difficult.

    A company and their products will be discussed in the social media “marketplace” whether the company contributes or not. It is not much different from the ancient forums or agoras where business was discussed by word of mouth and rumors and gossip spread. Today the niches of society are electronically connected and able to act quicker because of it.

    Ignoring the growing marketplace that social media facilitates means missed opportunities. Participating where the market is at is key to survival. Even to just keep up with the competition who are embracing social media.

  66. how will doing this help my sales?

    Because if you don’t, you will surely lose sales and customers to the competitions that do adopt social media. We have witnessed the revolution of search marketing and how search has changed the way people find products and services. When was the last time anyone opened a yellow page to find an address or phone number to a business? It’s hard to imagine any billion-dollar companies still haven’t adopt search marketing today but 10 years ago, it was unheard of.

    Social media is the next revolution. It will be another powerful form of advertising medium whether companies want to adopt it or not because like search, it is in the user/customer control. The customers decide which blogs to read, where to read comments or reviews about product, which social networking site to be a part of, etc. It is the companies that need to follow their customers, not the other way around. The question to ask is not whether social media will help my sales but how much sales will I lose.

  67. It all boils down to *Relevancy* as others previously hinted. What communication method (and message) is most relevant to your targeted audience?

    Could be online social media (which is WOM on steroids) but that’s only if your targeted audience communicates in that way.

    There is the debate the Internet removes the need for targeting as it allows you to grab the long tail; however, I think for most products or services this is not true.

  68. It all boils down to *Relevancy* as others previously hinted. What communication method (and message) is most relevant to your targeted audience?

    Could be online social media (which is WOM on steroids) but that’s only if your targeted audience communicates in that way.

    There is the debate the Internet removes the need for targeting as it allows you to grab the long tail; however, I think for most products or services this is not true.

  69. Quick, name one thing that’s GUARANTEED to increase sales at any company.

    If you cut prices, your sales will increase.

  70. Quick, name one thing that’s GUARANTEED to increase sales at any company.

    If you cut prices, your sales will increase.

  71. Have the company ask their hundred latest costumers, why they chose their product and how the got the information to back up their purchase. Tell the to twitter you, when they have realized that information and conversation is king in a sales act. Then they are ready for you and the market.

  72. Have the company ask their hundred latest costumers, why they chose their product and how the got the information to back up their purchase. Tell the to twitter you, when they have realized that information and conversation is king in a sales act. Then they are ready for you and the market.

  73. [...] sense. And that rough metaphorical proportion probably holds true in social media.  I cannot point to specific statistics or Harvard-researched studies with complex equations supported by rigorous methodologies to prove [...]

  74. To ANSWER THAT QUESTION – you (and he, and everyone that wants to improve results…) will have to QUESTION PRIOR ANSWERS. The increase (sale, etc) will come from knowing what isn’t working (and baseline info from which to measure/’guarantee’ that progress is/was made). That PRE/POST info comes from asking the right questions – of the right people – in the right sequence (Listening 2.0 via WEB 2.0 within Enterprise 2.0, etc).

    Even if that isn’t the answer you (may/not) want here – it may still be worth discussing – http://unettednations.wordpress.com/answer-my-question/

  75. To ANSWER THAT QUESTION – you (and he, and everyone that wants to improve results…) will have to QUESTION PRIOR ANSWERS. The increase (sale, etc) will come from knowing what isn’t working (and baseline info from which to measure/’guarantee’ that progress is/was made). That PRE/POST info comes from asking the right questions – of the right people – in the right sequence (Listening 2.0 via WEB 2.0 within Enterprise 2.0, etc).

    Even if that isn’t the answer you (may/not) want here – it may still be worth discussing – http://unettednations.wordpress.com/answer-my-question/

  76. There isn’t one thing that is the killer app for sales. Rather it is the interaction of multiple connected “things”. If a company proclaims certain values and benefits from purchasing it products or services then doesn’t deliver social media can actually hurt your sales.

    On the other hand if your brand knows how to have conversations and build relations then those very attributes can help you improve and delight customers. Delighted customers is the kill app for improved sales.

    If you culture is not built on open communications and strong relations then no matter what you do apply “tricks of the trade” with social media will help you improve sales.

    Make sense?

  77. There isn’t one thing that is the killer app for sales. Rather it is the interaction of multiple connected “things”. If a company proclaims certain values and benefits from purchasing it products or services then doesn’t deliver social media can actually hurt your sales.

    On the other hand if your brand knows how to have conversations and build relations then those very attributes can help you improve and delight customers. Delighted customers is the kill app for improved sales.

    If you culture is not built on open communications and strong relations then no matter what you do apply “tricks of the trade” with social media will help you improve sales.

    Make sense?