During the 2011 iMedia Agency Summit in Arizona, my business partner Laurel Kaufman and I couldn’t help but notice the conversation around social media getting heated and even uncomfortable for some attendees. We were in a unique position as we were one of the few social media agencies present at the time.
Many of the advertising agencies questioned it, they didn’t understand it, and they complained their social media ads generated click-thru rates that were far below what is considered to be standard.
Now don’t shoot the messenger here, but there are several things your agency isn’t telling you about social media:
1) Social media and advertising are NOT synonymous. It would be remarkable if social media would play by the rules and act like traditional marketing and advertising, wouldn’t it? The advertising industry is used to BUYING buzz and their clients have become accustomed to believing the same is true with social media.
It just doesn’t work that way. Buying your way into the Facebook community that is 845 million monthly active users strong won’t help your advertising campaign get noticed, especially if your advertising campaign doesn’t know how to manage the community’s expectations.
On a platform where hundreds and thousands of brands and products are screaming “check me out” and “buy this,” you are wasting your time and money unless you take the extra step to understand social media and make something that is worth talking about. I always tell my clients, an average campaign is going to give you average results. This is especially true if your campaign was set-up by an agency that lacks social media knowledge.
2) Are you interrupting or interacting? Do you even know the difference between the two when it comes to social media? You’d better. People use social media to build and maintain relationships. Usually, those relationships are with friends and family, not brands and products. That’s why brands have to work extra hard to EARN higher-quality relationships with new and existing customers. If you spam people with worthless offers and don’t know how to interact, you may have lost your only chance. The overall lesson: attention cannot be bought; it has to be earned. So, take the time to create meaningful relationships the right way. It will fuel referrals for your brand. If you look at the research, 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, only 14% trust advertisements.
3) There is absolutely no value in a Facebook like unless it is an ENGAGED like. It’s not about a large number of followers and getting a new like on your brand page is only the first step. In other words, a page with 1,000,000 likes on Facebook means nothing unless those people are engaged with your brand or product. I personally would rather have a community of 500 evangelists over 5,000 “zombie people” any day. If an agency promises you a certain number of fans, turn around, and run. Run as fast as you can!
4) The ROI in social media are relationships. Sorry businesses! It’s time to see the value in social media outside of dollars and cents because your relationships with customers in social media are more valuable than you think. What would you rather want as a business? Five people re-tweeting you to 500 of their friends on Twitter? Or having a 10% click-thru rate on your email newsletter? That’s not to say the 10% click-thru rate isn’t important or necessary, but those five people who re-tweeted your business have recommended you to their friends. That recommendation from a friend is more powerful than any other form of advertising. Just because you can’t measure it in dollars and cents, doesn’t mean it’s not important.
5) Social media marketing is an investment, not an expense. Just like any other investment, you are laying out capital to gain an appreciation in value. Because it takes time to build valuable relationships in social media, you can’t take any shortcuts or lack preparation. The consumer is in control of the message more than ever with social media. They can CHOOSE to engage with your business or they can CHOOSE to ignore your business.
Traditional marketing and advertising is just not as effective as it used to be. You have to stop and think if your marketing dollars are being spent wisely if TV ads are being skipped with DVR, radio ads can’t reach iPod users, un-wanted email gets marked as spam, direct mail campaigns end up in the trash, and online banner ads live in a crowded space, making them harder to be seen.
The consumer is online. The consumer is social. And the consumer does not want to be spammed.
Welcome to the REAL world of social media.
Dimple Thakkar is CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING. SYNHERGY is a top-nominated social media agency and a Most Innovative Agency Website nominee with iMedia.