You Still Don’t GET Social Media Marketing

social media marketing

Some businesses, like Starbucks, really GET social media marketing, but most firms seem forever bound in the paradigm of traditional media marketing. I’m constantly reminded of how different social media marketing is by how inept some companies are in employing it. If you need a refresher on the differences between traditional media and social media, I have a post for you listing the 16 differences between marketing on these platforms.

Developing a strong strategy showing you get social media marketing is increasingly important. As you can see in the graphic below, the average time spent on social media continues to grow, although at a somewhat slower pace. Another feature of social media marketing is that the demographics shifted so that social media is no longer a tool to reach young target markets but, if you choose the right social media platform, is suitable for almost any demographics group, except maybe consumers over 75. More on this later.

time on social media
Image courtesy of Oberlo

And, a recent study of 1000s of users in 60 countries shows they don’t want companies in their social networks — something we call disruptive marketing. As reported in Sprout Social, a study shows a distinct disinterest in connecting with brands on social networks or buying their products. Instead, they want brands to use social media as a way of bringing together a community of users around the brand.

Here’s a quote from that study that I think sums up users’ opinions:

Brands are no strangers to social. But, by and large, brands have only just begun to realize the value of truly connecting with consumers and treating social as more than a channel for promotion. about brands on social media:

Developing these social connections with users and between users helps build loyalty toward a brand. The study found that 57% of users will increase their spending with the connected brand while 75% will choose the brand over the competition. In order to build these connections, brands must get social media marketing and their approach to this type of marketing requires authenticity based on real people representing the brand, especially leaders of the company.

You don’t get social media marketing

Despite the fact that most brands now participate in at least one social media platform, most don’t get social media marketing and see poor performance from their social media campaigns. Further hampering the return on social media marketing is the poor returns seen recently on organic social media as the platforms seek to increase ad revenue.

Does this mean social media marketing is a sham, unable to fulfill the promise offered by billions of connected consumers?

Should businesses close their Facebook and other social media pages and return to the security of traditional media?

Check out the returns from both traditional and social media and you quickly see why abandoning social media marketing isn’t the right strategy.

return on social advertising

Of course not. Businesses just need to wake up and realize they’re doing social media marketing WRONG!

Here are some recent examples of failure to understand social media marketing:

Steps to get social media marketing

You shouldn’t only talk about yourself

How boring. Unless you’re a celebrity, no one really cares about you beyond a few family and friends. And, as a company, I really don’t want you clogging up my newsfeed with inducements to buy your crap. The 80/20 rule extended to social media marketing suggests that at most 20% of your content should promote your brand while 80% of your content should provide value to your community. So, unless you’ve cured cancer or ended world hunger, I REALLY don’t want to hear about your accomplishments.

Tell me something I want to hear. I may listen to you if you’re going to save me money on the things I need, so offer me coupons or discounts. And, I’ll listen if you want to show me how to get more from the stuff I already own. I’m really interested to hear about your support for causes I care about, so tell me about the fundraiser you’re doing to help feed hungry kids at Thanksgiving or how your company is donating Aids drugs to patients who can’t afford to pay for them. From the Sprout Social study below, we see that consumers have high expectations of your brand, so talk about your firm’s contributions to society not your products.

what users want to hear from brands
Image courtesy of Sprout Social

I also like hearing about how I can be more successful. Teach me how to roast the perfect turkey like the one in a Normal Rockwell Thanksgiving painting. Show me how to get stains out of the new blouse I bought from you. Give me the information I can use in my classroom.

Social media marketing should be serious

Many companies fail to create a voice instead aiming for bland, de-personalized corporate-speak in an effort to not offend anyone. Even my students, firmly grounded in social media and strongly tied to their millennial background, are scared by the notion of using their voice when blogging or Tweeting from a corporate account. Everything they post sounds like a press release instead of a friend sharing something with you. Be funny, quirky. Use vernacular language that entertains me.

Sure, avoiding profanity and off-color or racial jokes is a good idea, but let your hair down and be yourself on social media.  Tell us a little about YOU. Not what you had for lunch or the funny thing your cat did, necessarily. Tell me something that allows me to connect with you as an INDIVIDUAL. I want to be your friend, not your customer.

Of course, being friends, you should truly CARE about me. When I have a problem, fix it. When I ask a question, answer it.  Get to know ME — talk with me, not at me.

brand strategy

I have a friend who manages the social media campaign for California Kitchen. She shares the weirdest things like the old gum she found at the bottom of her purse or the fact she’s having surgery. But, she also invites followers into behind-the-scenes discussions. For instance, she shared several options under consideration for the company’s new logo, letting followers vote for their favorite. Or presenting some new menu items to get feedback before the changes went live. Not only do these posts make users feel valued, they provide valuable feedback to the company; almost like being invited to a conversation around the dinner table. Marketing research to get similar insights takes a lot of time and money when you can build a community and get the insights for free.

You can’t just post every month or so

I hear this a lot and it’s what I call the “Field of Dream” marketing strategy — build it and they will come. Businesses think they can post every once in a while and expect to get engagement from their followers or enlarge their community. Plus, they never go back to respond to comments or questions posted on their wall.

Effective social media marketing strategy should involve DAILY efforts — Tweeting, Facebook updating, and blogging. And that means weekends and evenings since most folks use social networks when not AT work. Yet, businesses still engage in social networks during work hours because that’s when THEY’RE working.

Social media automation takes some of the sting out of creating a social media marketing strategy. Using a tool like Hootsuite or a more expensive option like Hubspot, you can create a bunch of social media posts and schedule them during the times most productive for your brand. The more you post, the better insights you get as to optimal posting times.

You also need a social media content calendar like the template I created. You can download the template for your own use with the link.

content calendar template

The template lays out your content needs by day and social media platform so you don’t face the challenge of a blank screen when it comes time to create a post. Remember that most platforms require at least one post per day and some, like Twitter and Pinterest, require multiple posts a day. Other marketing options, such as blogging and YouTube, require only one post every week (minimum) or, in the case of newsletters, maybe even less frequently.

You should cycle through your various personas and for users at various stages in the marketing funnel so you have messaging customized for each persona and each stage of the funnel over the course of a week or so. Identify the topic and resources, such as images and references, that might help when it comes to actually crafting the content. Try to set up the calendar for 30 days and keep updating the calendar on a rolling basis. Some companies, like Moz, find it easier to create a weekly schedule such as their Whiteboard Friday (see the image below) where they create a video and a blog post related to some aspect of online marketing as a tutorial.

comprehensive social media strategy
Image courtesy of Moz

You need to know something about marketing

Sure, I can hire some kid who really knows how to use Twitter, Facebook, and puts up cute YouTube videos so my social media marketing efforts will allow my business to soar. WRONG. Social media marketing may use social networks, but the WAY you use them is entirely different when you’re hoping to spread the message about your company, not share drunken photos of your friends. The kid who’s on Twitter understands the mechanics, but she doesn’t know anything about marketing, and social media marketing IS marketing.

You still need to understand target marketing, influence and persuasion, consumer decision-making, social marketing, and much more if you expect to get a good return on your efforts.

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