Ideas to improve the effectiveness of marketing using social media marketing platforms
Social media marketing is important; enough has been said on the matter. On the surface, many facets of social media marketing through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ seem simple. But effective marketing goes deeper than that. Executing this marketing 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’s not always a matter of avoiding doing it “the wrong way.” Doing the “right thing” the wrong way can be just as worthless, so let’s let’s look at some common misconceptions about how to go about marketing on social media.
1. Myth: 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. But don’t take that as an excuse to fill your Facebook Wall to the brim.
You could stuff your company’s Facebook Page with loads of updates every minute of every day. And it would all be for nought. Too many updates 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 in the first place.
Not all posts are 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, so it doesn’t affect you.
But content should. Content is news, humor, information, entertainment. Content is relevant.
Likewise, do not be tempted to merely repost or re-blog. 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 re-postings 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.
2. Myth: amass followers
The measures of success on social channels are Likes, Shares, Subscribes, Mentions, Retweets, Followers, and the like. These are numbers tallied from a single user performing a single task, usually hitting a button.
Having thousands of Likes sure looks impressive, but what does it really mean? Are there truly hundreds of thousands of loyal fans out there, waiting on your every word and press release? Or have a bunch of people just hit a button hundreds of thousands of 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 (AKA conversions). You need people to carry out your calls-to-action, or to at least 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 after 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.
3. Myth: catering to your audience
This myth builds on the previous one. Making that army of assets gives your campaign reach, but you’re still the original content creator. They are merely forwarders.
Recommendations have existed as long as there have been social interactions. When someone sees something they like, they’re apt to pass it on to others they think would appreciate it. Make that a priority, and not a second one.
In the world of social media, it’s not just about designing ads that appeal to your viewer, but also designing ads that appeal to your viewer’s viewers as well.
It’s called the second share. The first share exists between you, the content provider, and your initial audience. The second share takes place when your audience’s peers take notice of what’s they re-posted. If they like it, then they’ll share it as well, and so on.
This is how viral spread begins, or doesn’t. Fortunately there is one advantage in your favor; what one person in a group of friends likes very likely aligns with what the others in the group like as well.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to make re-sharable content; but don’t take it for granted. You could have stellar content, but if there’s a high cost or effort necessary in spreading it around people will be less inclined to do so.
This is why it’s important your content be self-contained and easily sharable. Make something attractive, and then reduce the amount of inconvenience necessary to spread it around. An infographic is more attractive than an essay, but more importantly it’s far more compact. The key is to design with this second audience in mind.
The Truth: Bear in mind how your content can be shared if you want to increase the chances of actually getting shared.
4. Myth: addressing the masses
If you’re writing to address the online crowds as a whole, you’ll have a harder time trying to reach them. There’s a better place for this type of public speaking: press releases, online articles, and website copy.
But if you’re on social media, you shouldn’t be “addressing the masses.” Because no one else there is. People are conversing with their friends. And there’s a key difference between the two.
Addressing the masses is formal and distant. Talking to peers is intimate and relatable. And in social media, being relatable is more important than prestige.
Sure, some popular figures might have thousands of followers, but as any master of charisma will tell you the trick is to always make each one of those individuals feel as if you’re talking squarely to them alone.
The tone on social media is conversation between friends, not a lecture or a broadcast.
In social networks you shouldn’t be talking to the crowds. You should be siding alongside groups and chiming into their discussion; all in the hopes of becoming part of their clique. Once accepted into this circle, meeting friends of friends becomes much easier. Success comes when your original audience members recommend you to their peers without any prompting necessary.
The Truth: Make conversation, not speeches.
5. Myth: launching new advertising
If you want to gain the attention of people on social media you must promote yourself to them. Use attractive ads and saturate them 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 updating constantly, this is a wasteful overexposure. You don’t need fluff, and launches like those 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.
Timing is important. Don’t advertise two holidays ahead, but at the same time don’t wait until the week before. The best way to gauge your timing is to determine when your content would be most relevant. If you’re advertising at a time when your content is irrelevant, then it won’t work.
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 advertise; dictate a campaign.
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.
For this reason marketing on the social media level is nuanced; the difference between doing it “right” and doing it “wrong” can be subtle. But like any face-to-face personal social interactions, intentions say it all.
Appealing to the audience 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 isn’t so much 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 are some other “marketing myths” that you don’t think quite apply in the online social world today, or just need a new perspective?
Thanks to Vince Ginsburg for sharing his advice and opinions in this post. Vince is a Web Designer and Blogger for Corsair Media Services , which specialises 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. Eager for discussion, you can find him at his company blog or Facebook.