The 9th installment of our new blog series, “Preach what we Practice” where we’ll give fellow small business owners a back-stage pass to how we do business. This week and next we’re in ‘debunking-mode’.
– Seth –
So, show of hands, who here is waiting for that “Social Madea Marketing” movie, starring Tyler Perry?
Well, the studio execs might not have realized what a gold mine they’re sitting on, but I think we’re all pretty accustomed to the phrase “Social Media Marketing” by now.
It’s been around.
It’s been around long enough to go from hot buzzword to tired buzzkill; approximately “a really long time” in Internet years, or roughly five New York minutes. A lot can happen.
Still, in all that time, there’s still a lot of confusion about what social media marketing is supposed to accomplish, so let me state very directly a few things that it is supposed to do, and the one thing it should never ever do.
Social media marketing should:
- Drive traffic to your website
- Expand your audience
- Start conversations
and because social media marketing is ultimately pretty inefficient at these things, it should also
- Move the conversation off the social media network in question as soon as possible
Social media marketing should never:
- be mistaken as a sales tool
I’ll dig in to a few tools we use in conjunction with social media to accomplish the “shoulds” in my next post folks, but first, a brief aside concerning sales over social media and why you don’t do it:
Warning: I may be taking the “Preach What We Practice” theme a bit literally here. I’m about to get preachy. If you want to save yourself the hassle of reading my terrible puns and stimulating prose, you can jump to the practice bits.
Can you remember a time in your life when being directly sold at wasn’t as common as a household fixture?
Can you remember a time when a television was more or less just another piece of furniture?
If so, you’ve probably forgotten more things than I know, because you’re a dinosaur (no offence intended here, dinosaurs are the coolest). Here’s the rub: as consumers of media, we’re not as dumb as advertisers want us to be. The “hard sell” commercials of the days of the Jack Benny Show aren’t as long gone as Jack Benny himself, but we know them when we see them. Likewise, we’re (as a general population) getting more and more desensitized to televised or otherwise-d promises of
a) being included in a community (e.g. just about any Miller Lite commercial)
b) standing apart or above aforementioned community (e.g. those Dos Equis commercials feat. The Most Interesting Man)
So what the heck is left? Even MTV recognizes that the once timely and effective “I want my MTV” campaign is now uncool, and has fallen back on the weirdly ambiguous “Watch our VMA’s and/or the bear gets it.”
We all still consume products and services, this is still America/life after all. We all still, to some degree or another, base our decisions on what to consume off advertising and marketing. Or at least, we aren’t making those decisions randomly.
Shouldn’t someone with a product or service to sell do everything they can to promote their product/service/alpaca petting zoo?
Well, no. Not if it isn’t going to work.
Advertisers have spent bajillions of dollars (about one gazillion euros) in the name of finding new tactics of advertising to which their target demographic is not already hip. Let them do the leg work there, folks, and when looking for solutions to your social media woes, ask yourself how many times per year do you actually click on a sponsored post or Facebook ad. [The last Facebook ad campaign we ran back in early 2012 picked up 1,000’s of clicks from users who listed something other than English as their spoken language. Really.]
My tally for this year: zero.
This goes for Google AdWords as well. Seriously, I only click on those “sponsored” search results when I’m feeling cranky and want to stick it to the man. That is all kinds of messed up, I’ll own it, but I know I’m not the only person who does this. We all know how to use Google. The sponsored ads aren’t helpful to us, so how much use can they be to the person who buys them?
Some of my claims here might seem insane; they are certainly debatable. I’m not so much trying to make any claims as I am trying to ask a question:
How do you effectively sell to a population that has been sold at all their lives?
This is not an easy question to answer. I suspect that it is not a coincidence that the term “Marketing” became popular at around the same time as television.
Now, there’s another core issue at heart here, which is “Should I invest my time/resources into social media marketing?” Sometimes, the answer is no.
More time spent engaging your audience on a social media network is more time your spending helping Facebook make money. However, if the market is there, if your audience is already engaged in conversation about products/services similar to yours, causes similar to yours, then it can be a very effective tool towards getting finding, expanding, and engaging your audience.
In my next post, I’ll show you a few tools you can use to use Twitter to your benefit. I love Twitter the best because functionally, it’s a dinosaur (i.e. cool). The tools I’ll show you should be illegal or something. In practice, however, Twitter suffers from the same glut of social media marketing as all the rest (if not more so). So how do you stand out from the lazy “Hey check this out” style tweeting that people form lines just to unfollow? Maybe start by behaving like a human.
Even better, you could try to treat your target audience like humans as well. And get the conversation off social media as soon as you can.
Most Interesting Man photo credit: © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com