Short and sweet, if you are not already being paid to generate social media actions for your advertisers you probably will be soon enough. And if you are an advertiser and have not thought about what social media actions mean to your sales it’s probably time to begin crunching the numbers.
The word “like” is almost synonymous in our present day online culture with Facebook. The extent to which a social media user cares about what you or your brand can offer is widely evident by the number of Facebook fans and Likes your page receives. But what is that attention worth? And is it the same as what traditional online marketing intends when the word “lead” is tossed around between affiliates and advertisers? I believe the answers are as plain as the nose on your face, pun totally intended.
Think of it this way. From an advertiser’s perspective all that is important is getting a consumer to pay attention long enough to pitch whatever is being sold. From a consumer’s perspective though it’s far more complicated when you consider the possible effect of social media on the final purchase decision of the consumer. Which would you buy? The product that five of your Facebook friends have already clicked “Like” on or the one that you came across by way of a link in an email message and that has no recognizable brand or endorsements from your friends, co-workers, or family members?
So are social media actions merely another payable action for advertisers and affiliates to base their work together on? I would wager that they are more than just that. Based on the power of the referral or the endorsement of someone you know and trust I would go so far as to suppose that lead generation itself may be in for a makeover. Take the old, tried-and-true lead generation form on a landing page for example. Time wasn’t so long ago that it was enough for an advertiser to open a door with a consumer and in many cases the submission of the consumer’s contact information and permission to call was all advertisers wanted. But what if your calls stopped converting as they normally would, due to noise created by social media channels? For advertisers using lead generation to fuel their call centers’ outbound sales calls the old model may not just need the added element of social media. It may need to become a product of it. Anyone can throw some social media icons on a landing page but gaining real social media engagement is not automatic. This is where affiliates have power and can wield that power with the advertiser who is willing to compensate them best for the social media attention they can generate.
If you are still skeptical consider this. Peter Hamilton, VP of Marketing for HasOffers discussed in his blog yesterday the way his company’s tracking system allows for giving affiliates credit for actions such as Google +1, Tweets, and Facebook Likes. Tracking systems for those in the affiliate marketing world tend to go where the need is but at times even software can be a driver in terms of what advertisers are willing to pay affiliates for. If tracking systems make it easier for advertisers to pay their affiliates based on social media actions the logical trend would be to at least test the water.
I will close with this personal thought about what social engagement means for me as a lead generator and advertiser. I expect that the way I do business now, meaning providing a landing page with a lead generation form on it and asking affiliates to send traffic on a per-lead basis is already somewhat antiquated due to the resistance from so many consumers to receiving phone calls from sales people. Social media engagement only seems to widen the gap between traditional telemarketing approaches and the desires of modern consumers to use all the online resources they have to make their buying decisions. In the coming years I would be surprised to see anything short of a social media centric approach to lead generation online. Whether you like change or not it’s coming.