Why Social Media Is Not Your Inbound Marketing Plan

Posted by Rich McElaney

If you're shopping around for a social media firm, you might be considering various social media packages. Most often, social media packages will include some variation of the following:

social media shopping

  • Social media account setup
  • Social media optimization services
  • List building on various social media platforms
  • Social media engagement (at a variety of levels)
  • Establish and manage campaigns on many social media networks, including Google +, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
  • Reputation management via social networking channels

I would be the first to tell you that social media is a significant, even crucial, part of an inbound marketing plan, but it's not the whole plan. If you're pricing social media packages in the hopes of seeing a fast return-on-investment for your inbound marketing strategy by hiring a social media firm to take care of it all ... you might be disappointed.

The problem is, many people who shop around for social media packages think they're shopping for someone to develop and manage a strategic marketing plan -- but that's not what they get. It's because the terms are so commonly confused. Let's clear it up right now with some easy definitions.

Inbound Marketing: Rick Burnes at HubSpot presents us with a very easy definition that manages to encompass inbound marketing effectively: "Inbound Marketing is marketing focused on getting found by customers."

Social media marketing, then, is one way businesses have of “getting found.” In other words, it's one part of a successful inbound marketing plan. But it's not the entire plan.

Social media, by itself, can have positive results, especially in the arenas of awareness building, customer service and reputation management. But if you're looking for incremental revenue growth from your inbound marketing plan, social media alone probably won't do it.

Components of an Inbound Marketing Plan

An inbound marketing plan will address a variety of key components:

  • A strategy that integrates business objectives with the inbound marketing plan
  • An action plan that is informed by the strategy
  • Content creation (which we've covered in-depth... and will continue to discuss since relevant content drives inbound marketing success)
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social media management
  • Conversion optimization (shaping website structure to engender prospect activity, creating calls-to-action, building landing pages)
  • Lead nurturing
  • Email marketing
  • Analytics (extremely important in order to validate the action plan and to refine efforts over time)

If you're looking for a social media firm that provides simply social media packages -- and you have someone in-house driving your inbound marketing efforts -- that's fine. In fact, a hybrid plan, where some of your inbound marketing efforts take place in-house and others are accomplished by an independent social media assistant can be a great way to control budget dollars and make sure key personnel are vested in your company's inbound marketing plan. If you’re actively looking to outsource part or all of your social media support, just be clear on what's included in the social media package you're buying before you make your decision.

Photo credit: Leyla Kuhn

Tags: social media firm, social media optimization, inbound marketing strategy, inbound marketing plan, social media, inbound marketing firm