Is Brand Awareness the Number-One Social Media Goal?

As a small business owner, you’ve officially entered the waters of social media. You’re blogging, you’re Twittering and you’re working hard to create a social presence. Why are you doing it? What is your ultimate business goal for your social media efforts?

Well, according to a July 2010 survey of U.S. marketers by the Direct Marketing Association and COLLOQUY, the most popular business goal is brand awareness, with 28 percent of respondents hailing it as their ultimate social media objective. Following close behind were customer growth/loyalty (25 percent) and customer acquisition (19 percent).

To give those numbers some street cred, eMarketer notes:

A July eROI study similarly showed brand awareness was the top goal of U.S. marketers using social media, and business-to-business (B2B) marketers reported the same to BtoB magazine and In April, search marketers surveyed by MarketingSherpa cited increasing brand awareness and improving brand reputation as the two objectives for which social media marketing was most effective.

I’d definitely agree with the surveys that have found brand awareness is a leading reason for business owners to get involved in social media. By constantly engaging in conversations, creating content, and starting conversations with potential customers, you’re letting people know, time and time again, that you exist and you’re listening. The effects over the long term are significant as customers start to associate your brand with a particular product or service.

However, I’d urge small business owners not to discount social media’s effectiveness as a lead generation tool simply because lead generation got 19 percent of the vote from business owners. You may remember that back in June we commented on a Unisfair survey that found social media to be the number-one emerging channel for lead generation. The reason its numbers were so low in the July survey are likely because of the size of the budgets represented. Customer acquisition is a bigger focus for small business owners than it is for those running midsized to large businesses, so they overshadowed the SMB perspective a bit in the more recent survey. If you’re a small business owner, however, customer acquisition is definitely an area where social media can give you a big boost.

Ultimately, you’ll decide your own goals for your social media use and tailor your social media plan to fit whatever they are. If you’re focusing primarily on customer acquisition, you’ll be doing a lot more outreach than if you’re simply trying to grow brand awareness and increase the visibility of your website. Social media is a powerful tool that helps business owners connect with their audience and make their brand more accessible. What you choose to focus on is up to you.

What about you? What’s your main objective for entering the world of social media? What have your results been like?


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

16 Reactions
  1. Thank you, Lisa.

    I feel that it’s easier to get brand recognition, than it is to get real-live leads, with social media marketing.

    That may have something to do with the numbers that you reported.

    Leads. Getting them is a constant battle.

    The Franchise King

  2. I really think that Gaining brand awareness in Social Media is easy with the help of social media, of course if you were to do an initiative to gain brand awareness you should deliver your message clearly to your target audience.

  3. I can understand that they want brand awareness, however unless that translates into leads or continued relationships with current customers it is a waste of time. Of course this translaltion may come from other methods with social media playing a part.

  4. Thank you Lisa for the post! I really enjoyed reading it. As a social media consultant for a small business,, I am currently faced with this exact issue. What should the end result to my social media campaign be. Currently I am working on Brand Recognition in order to drive traffic but when up against such large competitors it can be difficult. Any idea?

    Thank you again for the post!

  5. I agree, brand awareness is a huge goal. I use Twitter and my blog mostly… I have a very niche market, so these tools work great!

  6. Lisa, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Small businesses need new customers much more than brand awareness. Fortunately, a March 2010 survey by BIA/Kelsey and ConStat found that 97% of local customers are searching online for local products and services. Read more on connecting those local customers with local small businesses here

  7. Brand awareness – we are B2B importing & distribution – we want the public going into their favorite stores and asking for our products – that will generate the lead.

  8. In addition to brand building and lead generation possibilities of social media, the fact that you’re actively engaged with your customers reinforces loyalty.

    That’s why your responses have to be real, timely, and to the point. Don’t forget to have some fun and let your followers have some fun. Building a community takes time and effort but the results are worth the investment.

  9. of course it depends upon the media that you are choosing. media such as Twitter as very good at brand promotion whereas media such as Linkedin are good at finding the right people. On other hand Facebook is good at user engagement. So it depends on what you want to use them for and how you use them.

  10. I guess brand awareness is the instant and most obvious social media reward for business.

    Lead generation is another reward but it’s long-term. It requires effective engagement and coming up with innovative solutions to leverage social media for that purpose.

    Some companies have used their Facebook page as excellent lead generation tools by adding their optin form to their Facebook page.
    So, I guess it ios very doable if small business owners took into account.