Lots of time, effort and resources are being wasted by businesses, brands and organizations that lack a clear understanding of social media marketing. Too often, in my agency's experience, we're seeing social media being treated as a list of boxes to be checked off rather than a powerful way of building awareness, communicating with consumers and ultimately selling more stuff! The sooner we stop believing these five myths the better:
1. Social media marketing is about building relationships with consumers
Consumers don’t want to have a deep, committed relationship with your brand. They're selfish, and with good reason. It's their time and money.They want you when they need you, on their terms, not yours. If there is a relationship, it’s one sided. Fans won't pick your brand up at the airport or bring it soup when it has a cold, unless there’s a chance of winning a prize. They want to show your brand off in front of their friends, and let them know how amazing the two of you look together, until you change, or update, and then they want to complain about it. This makes them feel good.
Consumers want deals on things. They want to know when you have a sale. They want to know when a new product or feature is rolling out, if they need it, otherwise it’s annoying. They want you there on Facebook and Twitter so they can brag about you to their friends, yell at you when something breaks, or doesn’t taste the way they thought it would, or was perfectly fine and they just want another one for free. They watch your videos on YouTube so they can be entertained, informed, and so they can leave comments about how much they love you, hate you or don’t care.
You can make the argument that consumers give back by buying your stuff and sharing your brand message, but even that is with selfish intent. Still, your responsibility is to give them every opportunity to do so. Consumers don’t need more friends, they need things that entertain them, inform them, make their lives easier or give them a forum in which to be heard. If you can be there to do that, you’ll be top of mind when they're ready to buy.
2. Social media marketing isn’t broadcasting
Social media, collectively, is the biggest broadcast bullhorn out there right now. The difference between traditional broadcast and social, is that consumers can respond, so be thoughtful about what your brand broadcasts, and being prepared to talk back when your fans do. A Facebook update to 2 million likes is a broadcast. A YouTube video blasting out to 50,000 subscribers and embedded on 50 blogs and publications and linked out from 100 more is a broadcast. The game has changed in that advertisers have to be more selective and strategic in the types of content they broadcast so that the broadcasts seem less like broadcasts and more like engagement. This difference is more about how the audience reacts than the medium itself. Are they talking back, challenging you, discussing you with their friends? Most importantly, are you talking back? This is where you go from broadcast to a two-way conversation.
Ideally, brands should be broadcasting updates, tweets and videos that elicit responses, sharing and genuine interactivity. Entertain your fans, enlighten them, make them think differently, and they’ll reward you with their likes and follows.
3. Social media is about likes, followers, subscribers and building a fan base
Too many brands are measuring success based on numbers of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, Pinterest pin pals, G+ BFFs or whatever. This is just the beginning of the game. These are easy numbers to analyze and compare, but the real end game is sales. Is your brand selling more stuff than you did before you started your social media program?
Building a fan base is important, but at some point you’re going to have to let your fans all know why they’re really there. They have to buy something. You can do your best to make them think it was their idea, but either way they have to do it. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and budget and the plug will get pulled and your budget will go back to broadcast and OOH. Building a fan base for later can be a wise strategy but it should be just that... part of a strategy. Don’t go about building up a fan base with the expectation that someday you’ll figure out how to turn a profit from all of this. Otherwise, you’ve been building a non-profit social club.
4. Social media marketing is cheap
Social networking is free, social media marketing isn't and never was. My agency actually had a client that said our monthly social media marketing rate seemed "a bit high for just posting some updates.” Successful social media marketing involves way more than that. Here are just some of the steps involved.
- Developing a social media strategy that will raise awareness and boost sales
- Tying that strategy into an overall digital and traditional marketing strategy
- Creating content including videos, blog posts, contests, giveaways, events, games and apps
- Distributing content across social media channels, seeding, blog and publication outreach and influencers
- Including a media buy to kickstart awareness
- Active engagement and reactive engagement along social media channels
- Building a targeted fan base
- Creating opportunities for your fan base to show off and be seen and heard
- Selling to that fan base and converting sales
There's way more to social media marketing than “just posting some updates,” and whether you're doing it in-house or working with an agency, it requires manpower, planning and time, which equals budget.
5. Social Media marketing strategy can be figured out along the way
This approach is fine for a meandering summer road trip but you really don’t have that luxury. You need a map, a stopwatch, objectives and a clear finish line. Without a solid strategy you’re going to get distracted and lost, chasing after the next shiny object and spending way too much time and budget at all the tourist destinations.
To see a return on your social media investment, you need to know the risks and rewards going in and then commit sufficient resources or hire an outside agency. A solid strategy will also help you convince superiors that your campaign will be successful, and help you build support across other departments.