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Top Goals of Social Media Marketers: The What and The Why.

Of the following three goals: customer acquisition, brand awareness, and customer loyalty, which would you expect to be the most important among US social media marketers? If you guessed customer acquisition you’d be incorrect. Turns out it’s brand awareness, but why? Isn’t lead generation and customer acquisition the lifeblood of every company? Well, yes, but without skill and ingenuity creating a customer acquisition channel that utilizes social media can be challenging to pull off.

Not long ago, eMarketer published an article titled: “Social Media Working Better for Retention Than Acquisition” that highlighted the top goals of US social media marketers employed by large companies.  Drawing on data provided by a July 2010 Direct Marketing Association survey, eMarketer found brand awareness to be the most emphasized goal of social media efforts, followed by customer growth and loyalty. Additionally, eMarketer found customer acquisition to be the third in organizational goals driving social media marketing.

This ordering of goals makes perfect sense. Social media, i.e. Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts, has proven itself to be exceptionally good at creating low cost impressions and engagement. Thus it only makes sense that social media marketers have aligned their branding goals with social media’s strengths. But what is it about social media that enables it to excel at increasing brand awareness and improving brand reputation, but more difficult to acquire new customers? Let’s take a look at each of the three goals and find out why:

Brand Awareness – Brand awareness is all about getting the attention of your prospective customer. If a customer doesn’t know you exist, there’s no hope of that customer ever interacting with what you have to offer. Even so, a “like” spotted on a friend’s wall or a retweet in your timeline is all it takes for a brand, product, or service to be planted in a viewer’s subconscious. Social media excels at improving brand awareness mainly because of the sheer quantity of information that’s shared within (and between) Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, if a company develops a meaningful presence on Facebook and/or Twitter, their brand is that much more likely to be noticed by their target audience.

Customer Loyalty – A social media marketer can develop customer loyalty by providing a product or service that compels or encourages a customer to become a repeat buyer. Social media is great for this because Facebook pages and Twitter accounts can provide a continuous stream of content to its audience. If a brand can demonstrate a commitment to not only regularly providing valuable content, but also interacting with its fans, customers are likely to stick around. Do these two things and a brand will be well on its way to building a healthy relationship with its customers, as well as, maintaining a loyal following.

Customer Acquisition – Customer acquisition is about obtaining new customers. Plain and simple.  While Facebook and Twitter are great mediums to generate leads and gain new customers, it can be difficult. The reason being, that customers often seek Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to gain more knowledge about a particular brand, product or service, rather than to make a purchase. When a call to action is made within these realms, social media users may view it as out of place. This is the trickiest part about customer acquisition through social media. Yet, all is not lost. A creative approach with a large helping of ingenuity can make all the difference. For example, Overdrive Interactive’s Social Media Map has generated thousands of leads by distributing valuable content throughout the social media landscape and blogosphere.

It’s clear to see why social media marketers value brand awareness, customer loyalty, and lead generation goals as highly as they do. All three goals serve a particular purpose and are essential to any successful social media marketing effort. What’s important to remember, however, is that these objectives should not be viewed as incompatible with one another. Regardless of the importance a marketer may assign to any given goal, all three are not mutually exclusive. Rather, all three goals must be harmoniously blended to create a long term and successful marketing plan.

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