ElizabethThe other day I was talking with a friend who owns a gallery. He had decided several months earlier to pursue online marketing, and had hired a social-media company that was blogging for him. Now he was telling me that the gallery’s Facebook “likes” had tripled, and that the social-media company regularly sent him impressive-looking, undecipherable (to him) analytic reports that indicated they were having tremendous success. He had not seen any increase in sales, however, and none of the sales he had made had derived from those online efforts. So he “pulled the plug” and fired the company. When I asked him what he planned to do next, he said he had no idea.

Then he told me the gallery had just staged a wildly successful auction of small paintings. Everything sold, with multiple bidders, and everyone who attended was very excited about the event. Those who did not manage to purchase something were distraught and eager to acquire something else in the near future. But when I asked him how he planned to keep in touch with all of those people, he explained that he had been spending all day on the phone with them – individually. What a shame, I said, that he’d not found a way to maintain the level of engagement he had drummed up during the auction; wouldn’t it be terrific if he could get folks to interact in a virtual group as a way of keeping up the pressure to buy, and encourage these people to start collecting art? Yes, he said, wouldn’t that be great!

The gallery website has a blog page where the social-media company recorded its posts, but there was no place to sign up for updates, forcing website visitors to be proactive. The blog posts were not building the gallery’s contact list nor were they deepening relationships with customers or promoting sales; they were just increasing check-marks and making virtual noise. There was no call to action.

Pretend you have a dog (or don’t pretend, if you actually do have one). If you call that dog’s name – “Spot!” – he will look at you in expectation. Call his name again, and Spot will look at you again; he might even cock his head. He’s awaiting instructions, for you to say, “COME HERE!” If he’s well trained and in a good mood, he might come to you, but until you tell him what you’d like him to do, he’ll just wonder why you keep calling his name.

In my friend’s case, the social-media company he hired HAD done its job…sort of. They had garnered a lot of attention for the gallery. Trouble is, once they had everyone’s attention, they had no message to convey beyond, “Don’t you like us?” They were not asking the audience to do anything. They were just making noise. Please don’t do that in your business. Yes, it’s hard to communicate your vision to your team; it requires focus, energy, and time that you don’t have. But you MUST do it. Otherwise, your potential customers may look but not act.