You Can't Pay the Bank With...Time and again marketers are asked what the end goal of social media is.

And time and again, marketers reply with:

“Engagement! You need to get people interacting with your business!”

Are we dead wrong about that? Only sort of correct?

You Can’t Pay the Bank With Engagement

Imagine getting a bill in the mail requesting payment for the loan you took to start your business.

So, you get out your checkbook and write a check to the bank to pay them 500 retweets.

The bank receives your check and, of course, they’re confused. If you’re lucky, they chuckle when they realize what’s going on. And then, they send you another bill asking, “Seriously, where’s our money?”

We’re Talking About Running a Business

Businesses don’t pay their employees with Facebook comments. They don’t purchase inventory with retweets. They don’t pay the electric bill with shares on Google+.

They do all of these things with money — real, cold, hard cash.

When we say the end goal of social media marketing is engagement, we’re living in a world of delusion. The end goal is simply higher output and more revenue than we had before creating that Facebook page or Twitter account.

Does That Mean We’re Throwing Out Engagement?

You can game the system for engagement easily enough. Don’t believe me? Make a provocative political update on Facebook and see how fast the Internet floods your page to tell you how stupid you are.

Maybe you get 10,000 comments about how your political view is wrong. Do they buy anything from you? Probably not. Are you going to write paychecks using those comments? Definitely not.

If that’s the case, how could engagement reasonably be considered the end goal?

Does that mean we shouldn’t strive for more engagement? Not at all.

Engagement is absolutely necessary to being successful with social media marketing. So is listening for customer complaints and feedback. So is capturing customer information when you have the opportunity. So is using data from social media to paint a better picture of who your customers are.

All of these factors are greatly important, but only as means to an end.

That end is more money for the business.