You’re Screwing Up Social: The Truth About Social Media Marketing

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Have you spent any time watching the AMC drama series Mad Men? While the show won praises for almost a decade for its acting and storyline, my fascination has been a little different: the drastic changes the field of marketing underwent during the 1960s. In many ways, the changes that occurred during Mad Men's timeline reflect the shakeup that many of us in marketing today have observed over the last few years. In large part, both changes were due to marketers trying to integrate new technologies into their strategy and practices. For the mad men of the sixties, this meant doing battle with the first computers and household television sets. In the digital age, this means determining how best to utilize social media in an ever-changing marketplace. 

Since the creation of Facebook in 2004, many in our industry have worked to solve the social media marketing puzzle. First, it was adapting campaigns to Facebook, then Twitter, and now smartphones and tablets. Brands are in constant pursuit of an all-encompassing strategy that connects with customers on every platform. We all want our products, promotions, and ads front and center on whichever screen our customer is currently viewing. But, with over 27 million unique pieces of social media content posted daily, earning our share of that screen is becoming increasingly difficult.

Secrets of Social Media

Rumors abound about the viability of social media marketing. Some question its reach, while others question its users and their ambitions. Some experts argue that even with the prominence of sites such as Facebook and Twitter, certain sets of customers are still not “social” in digital terms. But Jay Baer, social media content strategist and author, explains otherwise in an article on Convince & Convert,

“2013 data from the Pew Internet project finds 72% of American adults who are online use social networking sites. Even among Americans 65 years old and better, 43% of them use social [media].”

Clearly, many of our customers are active, social, and waiting to be reached. However, it's important for us to understand that the internet and its platforms are constantly evolving, and digital marketing strategies must change along with it.

And even though the field may still be changing, sitting back and waiting for permanent stability will only result in a net loss for our businesses. In order to refine our social media strategies, let's examine some myths:

Myth #1: Customers Are Everywhere Online

Many of us are constantly in front of screens. Whether it's Twitter on our tablet or Facebook on our smart phones, most of us spend massive portions of our time looking at one screen or another. However, just because our customers are constantly on their phones doesn't mean they're viewing the social media content we're publishing. Before diving in to develop videos and content to connect with our customers, there’s one vital thing that many of us forget to research: where our target customer demographics are spending their time online.

Developing a comprehensive social media marketing strategy starts by understanding where our potential customers are looking. Amy Vernon, cofounder and CMO of Predictable.ly, explains in an interview in Fast Company,

“Figuring out where to find your target market on social media does take time, and involves searching for people who are talking about topics that are important to you. There are many social listening tools out there that can help.”

Sites like FollowerWonk and SpiderQube can assist business owners in beginning the social media marketing process by aggregating customer statistics to find out where marketing efforts are best spent.

Myth #2: All Platforms are the Same

Like utensils in a drawer, each social media platform has a distinct purpose and its own unique set of unspoken rules by which it operates. Law offices won't get much traction from creating campaigns on Instagram, and hiring firms can do better than posting jobs on Facebook.

Heres some tips for ensuring that we are using the proper platforms: 

  • Facebook – Facebook is all about community. Here, we should aim to generate conversations between our customers. We may have our own network, but an interaction between two customers on our page will reach an exponential amount of users, allowing us to grow our brand more rapidly. 
  • Twitter – Twitter is all about the message. Use this platform to spread information on your mission and goals to those that are most influential in your field. Twitter is a great way to reach out to industry experts. A retweet or Twitter conversation with one of these experts can instantly be seen by millions of users (and potential customers).
  • LinkedIn – If the site seems highly professional, that's because it is. Use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals, search for, and publish content related to your mission or goal. B2B companies will get the most mileage out of LinkedIn.

Testing each platform and monitoring the response received from its users is a great way to see where our efforts are best concentrated.

Myth #3: Quantity Over Quality

Instead of using the scattershot strategy of posting a large amount of content on social media in hopes something will stick, we should attempt to find ways to make our content as personalized to our customers as possible. Today's consumer, more than ever, wants to feel an emotional connection to the products and companies they support. Therefore, the quality of our content trumps the frequency. Matt Wurst, the vice president of Digital at 360i, explains in an article for AdAge,

“While there is still a time and place for one-off culturally relevant posts and reactive content opportunities, fewer, bigger activations and campaigns are yielding stronger results for clients. This new model ensures that a critical threshold of quality impressions is achieved, that content is seen and that the brand connection with consumers is strong.”

Content is king these days, and if our content resonates with our customers, they'll return time and time again.

Socially Strong

Understand that these are guidelines, not commandments. Social media changes constantly and our strategies for each platform must adapt to these changes. Knowing both who our customers are and where they're spending their time is a great start, as we can end up wasting a large amount of resources trying to get our message seen in the wrong places. In any case, social media has provided us with an incredible tool with which to connect with our customers, and we would do well to utilize it to its full capacity.

Connect with us on social media, too! Tweet us your favorite social media tips, tricks, and myths @EidsonPartners!

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