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Social Media Enters Its Third Inning: It’s Time To Score

Social media is entering the third inning of its evolution as a marketing channel.  

Are you ready to score some sales?
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The First Inning: Batter Up!

The first inning of social media marketing involved businesses creating social media pages and accounts and learning how to listen and communicate in a non-damaging way.

PR and marketing led this phase. This is where first-generation social media monitoring tools like Radian6 and HootSuite got their start, as listening emerged as a first step towards managing social interactions.

There are still plenty of examples of organizations struggling to get through this initial stage, but most have moved on.

Second Inning: Foul Ball

Today, we are in the second inning, where marketers use social networks as broadcast (mass media) advertising channels.

Working through influencers wherever possible, companies of all sizes are pushing ads, offers and click-baiting content into social networks with little to no customer targeting.

They are hoping that word of mouth, viral sharing and new discovery platforms will help spread their content far and wide.

When it comes to measuring results, second-inning players are primarily focused on attracting a large number of followers and obtaining high engagement rates.  Unfortunately, the evidence is that engagement rates remain depressingly low.

Most second-inning teams don’t measure the quality of their followers, the quality of their engagement nor the business impact. This is why so many companies cannot report ROI.

When it comes to tools, a second inning equipment locker may include BuddyMedia, Vitrue and UnifiedSocial, in addition to any of the hundreds of specialty tools and services available to connect brands with their key influencers.

The Third Inning: Time To Keep Score

The third inning is just beginning. It involves precisely targeting individual people with content crafted for their needs and measuring the results of your engagement in terms of meaningful business impact.

In other words, third-inning players are focused on the numerator of ROI – sales, earnings, and profitability.

For marketing and sales professionals, the third inning is all about attracting new customers, generating quality leads and closing more sales. Metrics like engagement, likes and retweets won’t cut it this time around.

In a recent Forbes article, a survey of managers and employees (performed by Appiro.com) showed that attracting new business is the highest priority for social media marketing today:

social-media-marketing-priorities-Appiro-Forbes-2012

As we enter the third inning, how well is your business prepared to score new business from your social media investments?

Get Your Lineup Ready To Play

Here’s a “third-inning” readiness checklist:

  • Do you know where your sales prospects engage online?
  • Are you actively listening for opportunities to help potential customers solve problems?
  • Do you have helpful online content in place, ready to answer your prospects’ most frequent questions & to address their most critical needs?
  • Have you made your content “findable” online?
  • Are you attributing your inbound traffic, leads and sales correctly to your social media selling activity?

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