If you understand this headline, you may be part of the problem. Businesses utilising social media is nothing new in these technology-driven times, but it is wrong to equate the amount of social media use with commercial success. Few bother to look at the actual numbers, argues Frank V. Cespedes in the Harvard Business Review, and their social media strategies fail accordingly.
Digital firms are still sales-driven
Cespedes’ numbers come from the US, but are still worth considering. Perhaps the hardest-hitting is that US companies spend three times more on sales than on advertising, and 100 times more on sales than on social media. That figure includes technology household names like Facebook, Google and Groupon. Nor has the ‘rise of the internet’ had any detrimental effect on the numbers of sales staff; the number working in sales in 2012 was the same as in 1992.
Data doesn’t equal growth
A survey, conducted in 2011, suggested the average US company with more than 1000 employees had more data stored in its CRM system than the US Library of Congress. Since 2011 that figure will arguably have skyrocketed, even for smaller companies. But has that data led to a similar level of growth? Obviously not – without measures and objectives, it’s just so much garbage, warns Cespedes.
The need for accountability
Some business leaders who aren’t so comfortable with technology tend to see their digital staff as a ‘new breed’, free from the demands placed on sales staff. Only 40% of US executives say their companies have accountability measures in place for social media, and only 7% can attach an actual amount of money to their social media involvement. That’s wrong, Cespedes insists; the reason sales still dominate is because analysing numbers is vital for productivity.
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