Most people understand that companies operate to sell and make a profit. Their first and primary purpose is not an altruistic charity drive or grant program but in fact to earn a margin of revenue above the cost of production and use that money to grow and expand. However, when that first Maslow Hierarchy-type purpose is immediately met, companies can and often do marry their business function with a particular goal or purpose. With the recent wave of businesses moving online to have presence in social media, the idea of a brand and purpose along with profit is becoming more and more prevalent. However, aside from creating a lot of content for viewers to look at, the question frequently comes up as to how all this effort improves the company’s bottom line.
There is no question that increasing consumer awareness improves brand recognition which can also have an indirect boost on profitability. If done right, name and logo recognition gets associated with various marketing messages, driving consumers to purchase the service or product involved because of the implied or expressed connection. Purpose, beyond the company mission and primary goals for making profit, tends to be a temporary campaign that ultimately is associated with either maintaining a given brand awareness level or improving it.
However, social media has been a bit of quandary to the traditional game book. The format works very well as a platform on which to express messaging and brand marketing virally. It’s practically natural for viewers and readers to share information through Internet connection, spreading the messaging put out on an exponential level. As a result, companies and their marketing managers have dived in wholesale to social media tools. That said, purpose is harder to coalesce and form in the social media environment. Most readers pick up quickly a given business exists to sell a product or service, but if the messaging is not clear, other purposes come out confused and disconnected. Much of the problem has to do with business’ strategy towards social media in general.
Social media is typically seen as just another communication tool for many businesses, albeit one that seems to take more time and energy to do properly. The mindset tends to assume that if enough resources are put to the task, some kind of business growth output will occur and purpose will be met. Unfortunately, social media doesn’t work this way; readers don’t necessarily follow a formulaic response to social media posts and chirps. They comment back, they share, they digress, and they even create their own social media pages in response to a business’ presence if highly motivated. And 99 percent of that response is uncontrollable for a business.
Instead, before entering social media, a company needs to understand the virtual environment requires an ongoing commitment to make social media tools produce a desired social good with brand awareness. Second, the company needs to have defined purposes that are clearly laid out to readers and followed consistently by those inputting the social media content. Doing so creates consistency and repetition of messaging over time. Eventually, the company’s brand gets associated with the given social good because the relationship is solidified repeatedly to viewers at all levels.
Profitability is not guaranteed by any baseline ratio when using social media, and in some cases specific social media content will have no measurable impact on sales or new revenue production. That said, as a company makes a long-term commitment to a given direction with its social media messaging, people accept over time that a company supports this charity, focuses on that program, helps the community in a given way, etc. The synonymous assumption becomes en-grained, much the same the local street store owner knows everybody in a community, and their parents, and their grandparents. That type of brand awareness becomes as valuable as gold in terms of social currency because it automatically draws like-minded people into a business.