Should Brands Cultivate Customer Relationships on Social Media or The Website?

Brands have recognized social media as an integral part of the marketing mix. As a result, many have relinquished ownership and control of the customer relationship to social media platforms and other environments.

Where will your customers spend the next 60 seconds?

Customers are fickle, spreading their time and attention across multiple social platforms and digital environments. While brands attempt to pick and choose the best social platforms to invest in, their customers should always know where to find them. What better place than the website?

What will your customers do in the next 60 seconds?


Social Media Budgets On The Rise

Forty-six percent of B2B and B2C businesses leaders plan to increase social media budgets in 2014, according to a report by Strong View.Marketing budgets will increase for social media in 2014

In light of the growth in social, the investment may seem well-placed.

However, marketers are all to often leaving customer relationships to be controlled by a platform they do not own, and cannot control. The investment made by brands will benefit the social platform more than the brand, unless the relationship between owned and earned media assets is strategically planned and managed.

As I emphasize in seminars and workshops I deliver on various topics related to social media and brand marketing; Go ahead, be social – just don’t forget to invite your audiences “home”.

Facebook is Not Your Friend

Nor is any other platform, for that matter. Each social media platform is an independent businesses with expenses and demand from shareholders and stakeholders to deliver a return on investments made in the platform on which marketers have grown accustomed to promoting brands.

Terms of Service and guidelines for promotions, contests and interaction on each platform limit brand creativity and control. Social media is effective in generating awareness and buzz.

Social Platform Rules

When presenting to social media and digital marketing professionals, when I ask how many have ever read, or recently read the TOS (terms of service) of Facebook; zero to one percent of hands go up. An alarming percentage of marketers are not aware that Facebook assumes a non-exclusive license to all content posted on the platform. In other words, they can use whatever brands post on the platform for their own purposes. There are many more considerations. I highly encourage brands to read and evaluate guidelines of each social platform they will engage on.

Benefits of the Ultimate Brand Destination: The Website

When the nuts and bolts of a campaign reside on the website, performance is tracked more easily, the visitor is exposed to the brand in its own “habitat”, and insights generated by data are much more comprehensive than those provided by social platforms. Brands can build lists, communicate directly, cultivate intelligence from data generated by user experiences, conversions and other behaviors to optimize planning.

Possession is 9/10ths of Law

If possession truly is 9/10ths of the law, why would brands leave customers on social media platforms or other environments? The brand is better served when they leverage platforms to drive traffic to the website – where they have complete control over the user experience and the ability to establish one-to-one relationships with customers.

ROI From Social Media

The return on investment in social media will require a path to conversion. Conversion mechanisms are limited on social platforms. After all, a “like” or “follower” does not impact the bottom line unless you can move fans, connections, customers and influencers along predetermined, optimized, paths to conversion.

As you might expect, this topic is covered in greater detail in the book.