Recently, I read an article in Fast Company about the idea of linking sales to social media involvement by major brands. In this article, Audi was that brand.
During the Super Bowl, Audi was the first-ever advertiser to feature a Twitter hashtag: #ProgressIs. Suffice it to say, this led to an enormous number of tweets that eventually led to a lot of viral chatter. They purchased a trend ad on Twitter, reviewed all the best tweets and the winner won a trip to California to test drive different Audi models. Plus, Audi made a $25,000 contribution to the winner’s favorite charity.
Have Audi’s sales increased as a result? So far there are no numbers to show that sales have increased. However, they now have the most engaged audience of any brand on Facebook, even beating out Beliebers’ (Justin Bieber fans) desire to click the “Like” button!
Bottom line: I thought the article was a good read and it pretty much confirmed what I suspected would be the case: Making a direct correlation between tweets and/or Facebook postings and sales is impossible, unless you are running a direct-response-type campaign involving a product or service that is not deemed a “considered purchase” like cars or other item of more considerable expense. There are ways of achieving success in a direct-response-type campaign, but you need to have the followers first to be successful at it. That requires a strategy.
I liken the value of a social media strategy for a mortgage company in today’s marketing environment to that of doing the obvious things you need to do to compete and thrive in business as a mortgage professional…things like brushing your teeth before you go to work every day, wearing clean clothes, making phone calls that engage prospects, putting a sign outside with the name of your business on it, attending events where you can meet people and network. All of these things are necessary to succeed in business.
Now, in the year 2011 and beyond, add to the above: social media integration. The fact is lack of visibility and engagement in social media will surely be a detriment to your business. People think if you’re not on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., maybe you’re not as vibrant, exciting, “new” or as competitive as your competitors who do maintain a social media presence. Just keep in mind the old adage….out of sight = out of mind!
Also, consider this…when people go to “the store” to purchase any type of product or service, they’ve seen the brand online, they’ve read the reviews, they’ve seen how the company interacts with their audience and they don’t need a salesman to do much more than point them in the right direction. Consumers are smarter than ever before.
So, the moral of this story is simply that you should employ a social media strategy, because it’s another way of reaching out and “shaking hands”/”making nice” with your prospects and engaging them with your brand. This allows you to be on their radar in a positive way. If you don’t, I can promise you that your competitors will because THEY understand that it is a part of doing business today.