Debunking Three Social Marketing Myths
Social marketing is important; enough has been said on the matter. Executing that marketing however is a more nuanced affair. It isn't simply a matter of "doing it," there has to be a clear goal in mind, with an overarching ethos and objectives that align with that.
It might sound haughty, especially compared to actual real-life social interaction. But compare "making friends" with "business networking." One is done casually and on a whim, the other is far more determined and precise.
The problem is despite the social nature of social marketing too many SMM approaches think it is just about making friends. Let's address that misconception.
Myth 1: Update Constantly
A social channel with nothing on it is a dead one, and nobody will want to pay attention to it. So nobody will. It's the same as a Friend on Facebook who never posts anything; all they do is lurk. With nothing to contribute, there is no participation in the social community, so there is no reciprocation.
You could fill your company's Facebook Page with loads of updates every minute of every day. And it would all be for naught. Too many updates often drown out your own posts. If your feed is filling so fast that nobody can get the opportunity to see a particular post then it might has well never have been posted.
Also, not all content is created equal. A lot of stuff on your social channel does not necessarily mean there is a lot of content. Content is relevant, engaging, and sharable. General updates are just filler, they could possess nothing that makes them noteworthy. An update is a self-announcement to the world for its own sake; and people may or may not listen.
Do you pay much attention to that "friend" who always posts about how bored they are, how they went to the grocery store, and what they're making for dinner? Not really, because none of those updates pertain to you or engage you in any meaningful way. It's not informative or amusing to your interests, it doesn't affect you.
But content should. Content is news, jokes, information, entertainment.
Likewise, do not be tempted to merely repost or reblog. Doing nothing but reposting other people's content is easy and quick, but there needs to be an element of originality. At the very least, make sure your repostings are unique and come from a diverse and reputable selection; become a content curator. Your originality can come from your selection.
But really, nothing beats material that comes from your own mouth first and can't be found anywhere else.
The Truth: Make relevant content, not just filler updates.
Myth 2: Amass Followers
The measures of success on social channels are Likes, Shares, Subscribes, Mentions, Retweeks, and Followers. These are numbers tallied from a single user performing a single task, usually hitting a button.
Having a hundred-thousand Likes sure looks impressive, but what does it really mean? Are there truly one hundred-thousand loyal fans out there, waiting on your every word and press release? Or have a bunch of people just hit a button one hundred-thousand times.
Answer: It's the latter.
Likes and such are a quick-and-dirty measurement, but really they don't hold up to actual conversions. You don't need Likes just as you don't need tallies on a chalkboard, because that is really all Likes are.
You need an audience base and a way to track them; and more importantly an audience that will follow through on your prompts (conversions). You need people to carry out your calls-to-action, or to help spread the campaign.
You don't want drooling masses following you like hungry dogs gazing after the meat in your hands. You want keenly aware, self-motivated and ambitious minions to take your cues and move themselves forward.
The more time spent coddling followers, the less time spent developing and advancing yourself. Let your audience participate, and in doing so carry some of the workload. Let them spread the campaign, persuade others through recommendations on your behalf, and provide feedback on your products.
Your audience should be doing a task, even if that task is simply to buy into your product. If all they're doing is hitting a thumbs-up button, then they're not doing anything truly meaningful for you.
The Truth: Develop an army of individual assets, not just mindless admirers.
Myth 3: Launch New Advertising
If you want to gain the attention of people on social media you must promote yourselves to them. Use targeted ads relevant to interests, topical events/holidays/events, and saturate their exposure with your presence.
Sounds simple enough. Yet if you follow this to the letter, you'll find yourself completed ignored.
If you see ads for Christmas during Labor Day do you immediately think to start your Christmas shopping when you haven't even gotten your Halloween costume ready? Do political ads at every corner only make you sick and tired of the whole election affair entirely?
These are not effective marketing strategies. Like Myth 1, this is a wasteful overexposure. You don't need fluff, and such launches are just that. A true campaign does not consist of relentless promotion all at once.
A true campaign is designed to win over people who can be assets, not just followers. A campaign gets people to redistribute for you, uses strategies and contests and polls to engage, and employs follow-ups like email marketing to continue keeping the audience in the loop. A proper campaign leads into itself and segues neatly into the next; it is not just one block of commercials brusquely followed by another set.
For example, launching new ads just prior to the holiday season is a slam to the face, meanwhile advertising way too soon only spoils the point of the endeavor. It takes timing.
A campaign is not just a cost, but an investment. It should return multiple values, not just sales. It should bring in leads, new sub-audiences, more accurate demographics, and more people assets.
The Truth: Don't just launch new ads, create a campaign that caters to the bigger picture.
These myths really are just traditional marketing techniques as they apply to existing mediums. But on the Social Web people tend to act, and think, a bit differently. Not in the complete sense, but their priorities change, and often.
Appealing to them less as consumers and more as participants gives them the benefit of living out an experience, which serves to build social bonds. It interacts with the audience on a personal level, which is what social networking is all about. And from a business standpoint it is the most cost-effective, as a properly executed social marketing strategy transfers some of the work onto the audiences themselves.
Correcting these myths is less about going against traditional marketing strategies, because they really don't. But it is imperative that they be followed with this new mindset behind them.
What other "marketing myths" don't quite apply in the social world, or just need a new perspective?
Vince Ginsburg is a web designer and blogger for Corsair Media Services, which specializes in online marketing strategies and development. He doesn’t just look at the current state of the Web to figure out what’s going on, but tries to understand why it’s happening.
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