A potential client called me about adding social media to his service launch. He talked enthusiastically about employing social media to create buzz. He was sure that if he got a celebrity endorsement and had a Facebook page, he would be launched. Sales would pour in.

I asked him about his current Facebook page and what he was doing with Twitter. "We have Facebook, we have Twitter," he assured me.

I looked up his accounts. Yes, he had both. A live Twitter feed on his website was displaying tweets that didn't support his brand. His Facebook presence was more confusing: It was impossible to make a connection, real or implied, to his website and brand concept.

OK, I thought, taking inventory. He had a presence based on his company and website name. He also had many competitors with a similar idea; he was nevertheless convinced his idea would prevail over the others. He was sure "social media" would broadcast his concept to the right audience (which he could not define).

I took a deep breath. "What's wrong with this picture?" I asked myself:

  • No business or marketing strategy
  • No integrated marketing solution in which social media is a component
  • (On the plus side) An unwavering belief that buzz will work

I cautioned him on moving too quickly and suggested that he step back and rethink the timing of his launch plan. In essence, then, I advised him to look at the basics of his business and at the destination for any social media tactics.

It all comes back to his website. His website was the sole distribution channel—the only venue for prospects to experience his product and make a decision to buy.

His website was like a retail store for his consumer product. To encourage future sales, he needed to create an inviting shopping experience in his virtual store, making it easy for customers to find his products "on the shelf." He needed a customer-focused, friendly, easy-to-navigate website that clearly described his products.

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Donna Bletzinger is president of Dyer Stephenson, a marketing consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning for growing businesses. She can be reached via donna@dyerstephenson.com.