As marketers, we have to look at the big business picture. We have to look at the bigger vision and evaluate all the outlets and channels we are using and fully understand the customer journey and how each phase correlates to the sales funnel. Sometimes, this requires us to step back and stop focusing solely on the bottom line.

When it comes to social, this may mean asking yourself and your team, “Is our social strategy really focused on sales? And should it be?”

For as long as social media has been a business investment, the business analysts have asked, “What is the ROI?” Well, as much as we would every channel to contribute to the sales funnel and become an outlet for lead generation or a catalyst to conversion, that is not always the case and we can’t be afraid to admit that maybe our social strategy isn’t and shouldn’t be focused on sales.

This past Tuesday, I attended a good old-fashioned in-person social meeting and networking event. The Social@Scale Summit, co-hosted by Sprinklr and Trellist Marketing and Technology [disclosure – Scribewise is owned by Trellist] focused on collaboration, storytelling through social media, and demystifying social media ROI. Presenters were from companies who are deep into their social media initiatives – DuPont, Barclaycard US and PSE&G.

Although the content of the sessions provided insight into how each company was using great content to fuel their social media efforts, presenter Kim Snedaker from Barclaycard US pointed out a key factor in crafting a successful social media initiative. Snedaker pointed out that her goals for each social channel were a bit different and for them, social was not a sales channel – it was strictly an engagement channel. Although conversions may be a result from a customer engagement on social, the main focus was not acquisition, but engagement that continued to position the company as one that cares and is an integral part of this thing we call life.

Deep, huh?

Well, maybe it isn’t that deep, but what I appreciated about this statement is that when Snedaker is questioned about ROI, she doesn’t have to hesitate and try to make up a reason why she didn’t have those metrics or why she wasn’t putting a dollar sign in the revenue generating activities column next to Instagram.

Instead, Barclaycard US knows the role of social – engagement and branding – and they stay focused on that role by launching successful, targeted campaigns.

Imagine that?

So, the moral of the story is that social media, and the content that fuels it, doesn’t always have a direct bottom line ROI – it may be one contributor to the overall customer journey and that in itself can be very valuable.