As we quickly near the end of 2021 (where did this year go?!?!), many of us will start the planning process for 2022. And, given the changes in: consumer behaviors, platforms and content, social media marketers would be wise to take this chance to truly evaluate their strategies and approaches.

Because I think we’re on the precipice of a big shift.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed many brands have put a lot more time, energy and resources into generating sales (B2C) or leads (B2B). Not surprising. The tools have evolved to better support selling via social on channels like Instagram and TikTok. And the ad platforms have evolved to better support B2B orgs who want to drive more leads via networks like Linkedin.

That evolution makes sense. And we see it every day.

Just look at your Facebook feed–how many ads are in it?

Or, browse your Insta stories for a minute. Every fourth story is an ad.

Or, think about all the sales people we see on LinkedIn spamming us every day. That’s only increased during the pandemic!

Yep, sales and leads are a primary focus on many, many brands. Except here’s the thing: I think the pendulum has swung way too far that way. WAY too far.

Yes, we need to use social to sell. We all know that. Without that, many of us don’t have jobs! However, this big swing toward using social media to sell and drive leads isn’t typically the most effective use of social media tools.

Sure, you CAN sell on social. But, it’s the the best use of the tools.

Instead, I think we’ll see a recalibration where brands go back to basics and begin again to use social media for what it’s best at:

Building community.

Driving awareness and engagement with customers.

Serving as a customer service channel.

And, being an excellent listening tool.

Companies are certainly doing all these things now–in spots. But, they’re certainly not prioritized the same way generating leads and sales are. And that’s a big problem.

Case in point: The topic of listening comes up with clients all the time.

“Boy, we should be doing more listening for opportunities to be helpful and useful in the feed.”

“We should be doing more listening to our competitors to see where they’re succeeding–and failing.”

“We should make sure we’re listening to our customers more–it can help us innovate and create our next product/service line.”

All reasons I’ve heard people say they should be listening more. Except the next discussion goes something like this: “Who’s going to do that?” Or, “who has the time?” Or, “Do we have budget to hire the agency/consultant to do that?”

Inevitably, the answer to all those questions is not sure, no one and no.

It’s just not getting prioritized.

What about using social to build community as a customer retention strategy? Companies know damn well it’s easier to keep a customer than it is to acquire a new one! And, it’s a heckuva a lot cheaper, too! One great way to keep customers happy and engaged with your brand–building community on social.

But, overall, this approach has gotten short shrift, too. At least in the last few years.

Why? Because customer acquisition is getting all the budget and resources! There’s very little left to build community, which can be a somewhat time/resource-intensive effort.

You see what I’m getting at?

Sales and leads are important. But, they’re not EVERYTHING. When it comes to using social media tools effectively, as a brand, there needs to be more balance. Companies need to think about how social tools can help them retain existing customers and build awareness at the top of the funnel–because that is what social typically does best.

The post Time to rethink social strategy for 2022: Leads, Sales Can’t be our Only Goal first appeared on Arik Hanson.