Social media marketing has been around for a bit now. Some of us have grown with it, and others, well, not so much.
Back before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like, social media marketing agencies like WG began introducing our clients to the concept of leveraging social networks to drive business. Early on, this meant leveraging networks like Myspace, Tagged, Bebo, and others to promote hotels, local restaurants, and others primarily in the hospitality industry build their social presence and most importantly, book rooms, restaurant reservations, wedding gigs, and more.
Early efforts were guerilla by nature. We bent the rules of what it meant to be a ‘person’ on a social network. We posted real, unpolished, unedited content and the results were unbelievable. Real, track-able sales from a channel which even we didn’t event completely understand except that it was driving business and lots of it.
In these early days, making a track-able profit in social marketing meant hiring a social media marketing agency to represent your brand or business. Posts weren’t manufactured, designers not needed, PR “experts” were left out of the loop. PR and branding gave way to response marketing metrics. That is, the early days were about driving business and if branding happened along the way, even better but we weren’t counting.
In time though, social networks smartened up. Organic social marketing efforts have become less effective as social networks algos began to favor people, not brands (in terms of organic reach). The same guerilla tactics less effective. On facebook, complimentary ad budgets are often needed to reach your audience even if they are actually engaged. For Instragram, promoting through influencers provides one of the few tangible ways to scale business and drive significant business. The list goes on but the trend is the same. As social users, we’re happy about this trends as content is more relevant and less promotional. As advertisers, the game changed and some of us noticed.
Long gone are the days of guerilla marketing, at least this true in the short term. The networks always smarten up, always. The numbers are in and the undersold idea is this- Social media is not social anymore. It’s situational, it’s demographic, it’s contextual, and it’s certainly not organic on the whole. It’s not about being your customers’ friend on the interweb, it’s about figuring how to target them at the intersection of the perfect when and where.
Social Media Shame
Guess what Dr. Jane? Instagram is not going to drive new patients to your practice. And if it does, there’s probably a HIPAA violation in your future.
Guess what Mr. Mechanic? You can tweet until your fingers bleed, no new customers are coming your way. Maybe just stick to geo-targeted mobile ads.
Guess what Sally Fashion Designer? All the facebook fans in the World aren’t going to help you scale unless you have a sizable boosting budget to match. It sure does look nice to have XX,000 followers and an average of 3 likes per post. It’s not selling dresses.
So this is exactly what your ad agency should be telling you. Instead, they are comfortable collecting that sweet monthly retainer and throwing irrelevant metrics at you each month.
The Anatomy of a Realistic Social Strategy
Let’s take a step back and call it like it is, what it has become. To businesses, maybe we should look at social networks as simply being the new place where we, your customers, spend our time online instead of going to news, blogs, and other old world information websites.
Which networks should I “be” on?
Any and all where you feel like you can make an honest connection with your target audience. If you own a local restaurant and have the time/resources to post incredible visual media of dishes, events, etc., have at it. If you build beautiful homes and want future homeowners to know it, post away!
If you can provide genuinely useful content to consumers, by all means, do so. But please stop posting stories about how your employees spent the day team building or that Jane from accounting just got her accounting degree (wait, what?). We may like or even love your product, but we just don’t care. While you’re at it, please stop saluting the troops or tell us to be more giving during the holidays. There are real connections in our lives which are satisfying these needs.
In some cases though, the answer to this question may be none. What, how can you be in business and not have a facebook page? Inconceivable!
Building a large fan base means almost nothing unless your a Kardashian and getting paid to peddle other people’s stuff. Each and every network on the planet is squashing organic reach so the game changes. Say it, “The game changes.”
Sure it’s nice to have a face on facebook, but if you haven’t the time, assets, or resources to keep working toward your goal, why do it at all?
Media buying (display ads targeted to your demo or based on behavior) may be the new game if we really want a return. Granted, your PR consultant will still try to sell the same CAV (calculated ad value) which now comes in the format of “impressions” and “likes”, but your direct response marketing consultant is going to see it differently. If it can’t perform and prove, the money moves to channels which can, period.
It’s not enough to get a cheap “like” because you support a good cause.
So, what kind of social media marketer are you?
Likely to Succeed
If you genuinely approach social media with open arms and the willingness to do the sensible, you’re going to succeed. You’re going to consider your business model, business goals, and assets and work with experts to help make the connections for you. You’ll not focus on goals like “posting everyday”, but rather on converting new business, driving repeat business, and making a real connection with your customers. You’ll focus on telling your story in a way that consumers will care to hear.
Less-Likely to Succeed
You read in an industry magazine about some brand who has nothing in common with you but has had success on a new social network called