Why Social Media Matters

For the last year, some very smart marketers have wrestled with a particularly difficult question.

Why does Social Media matter?

Face it.  Dot com crash refugees (like myself) tend to get cynical about must-have technologies. Remember Pointcast anyone?

We tend to worry that social media will rocket to the forefront only to be reeled back in and gobbled up by the forces of evolution rather than revolution.   Or is our concern unfounded?  Could Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and scores of others here to stay?

The answer still eludes many but recently while tweeting about my favorite bass fishing swim bait I noticed something.

Remember the good ole’ “purchase funnel”?  For decades this ubiquitous marketing metaphor has helped advertisers describe how a person is transformed from oblivious spectator to committed loyalist.  The phases of the funnel include Awareness, Opinion, Consideration, Purchase, and then Retention.

Those of us who have faithfully used the funnel –  have also been hiding it’s dark secret.

You see, the funnel works well for awareness (display ads, pay-per-click), consideration (search engine optimization, email marketing),  purchase (website, landing pages, shopping carts), and loyalty (tell-a-friend, referral programs).  But, the Web has fallen flat on its face when it comes to reliable influencing “opinion”.

And then Social Media came along.  Social Media works because it creates a space for everyday people to generate goodwill, recommendations, and unbiased observations. Or put another way – Social media rocks at creating “opinion”.  In fact, nothing else comes close.

So as you are casting a critical eye at your social media investment, keep in mind, that those 140 characters on Twitter may be the best tool you have for seamlessly moving your prospect to the point of purchase.  Not a bad deal – especially since (for now) this is the only part of the purchase funnel that you can affect for free.

Seems like Social Media does matter afterall…

What do you think?