Interesting article from Tom Foremski at Silicon Valley Watcher titled Corporate Social Media Is Not Social -- It's Sales Media.
Tom's point is pretty straight forward. People use social media for social reasons; companies use social media for sales. Key quote from the article:
"When most people use Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace, they use it for its social qualities. Yet when corporations, and many professionals use social media, they are using it for commercial purposes, they are using it for sales."
We agree. Companies want to see a return on their investment in social media and returns are measured, in the end, by sales and profits.
In our research we're seeing a lot of small businesses who are disappointed with social media. They simply aren't seeing the kind of results needed to justify their investments in time and money (mostly time).
Recent survey results from the Network Solutions Small Business Success Index also show this. Only 22% of small businesses who use social media believe it has been profitable. 19% believe they have lost money on social media and 53% said they broke even.
In our interviews with small businesses, we are seeing a common pattern among firms that consider their social media programs successful:
- Social media is viewed and used as a sales or customer support tool
- Financial metrics are used to evaluate social media program effectiveness
- Social media is integrated into broader sales, marketing and support efforts
While we prefer the broader term "social commerce", it is clear social sales is a key reason small businesses are benefiting from social media.