Ever since we’ve had social media, we’ve had social media marketing. I get it. It’s important. You have to go where your customers are, right? You have to follow the trends, or your business will get left in the dust.
But here’s the thing: most businesses are doing it wrong.
Do you remember the old days, before the internet came to town? Before we were all virtually connected to each other? We knew exactly what to expect from marketing. We knew where to look for it. Marketing was behind the commercials that came on during breaks from our favorite shows. Marketing covered billboards, came to us on packaging, and magically appeared in our mailboxes in the form of flyers and catalogs.
These various types of marketing were united under a common umbrella: they were all about a business sending a message to a group of people. Sometimes return communication was encouraged — say, as in surveys or contest entries — but that communication was on the businesses’ terms. The overall trajectory was still point A to point B. One delivers, and the other passively receives.
In the present day, that kind of traditional B2C marketing still exists, and it’s still viable. But the problem that I see playing out over and over again is when businesses take traditional marketing tactics and try to fit it to online social media.
Look. I’m sure you haven’t tried to wedge a square block into a round hole since you were a toddler, but the semantics still apply. It just doesn’t work.
Don’t block the road
I made this point in the last post, but it bears repeating: social media is not a soapbox you stand on to shout about your brand while a crowd of fans and followers quietly look on.
Too often, businesses set up social media accounts, scavenge their traditional marketing materials for content — tweeting a tagline here, sharing some product copy there — and that’s as far as it goes. They block posts on their walls, turn off comments, and ignore replies. And then they wonder why they don’t have more “likes.”
Social media, like all forms of communication, is a two-way street. If you try to steer an oversized semi-truck down that street, you’re going to block the flow of traffic coming from the other way. You’re going to run other folks (your target market!) off the (virtual) road. And as a business, you don’t want to be that truck.
So what can a business do?
- Recognize that social media isn’t static. efef
- Think evolution, not change. Embarking on something new is intimidating, so don’t think of it as something new. Think of it as growth. Growth of your business, growth of your knowledge, growth of your marketing base.
- Recognize that others may want to interact with your business online, and allow that to happen. Encourage that to happen, even.
- Be there. Prepare to engage with fans and followers.
- Create unique content for your social media streams. This goes hand-in-hand with engagement: your content should generate engagement, and vice-versa.
The last two points together make up the hardest part of social media marketing — and that deserves its own post. So come back next time for tips on how to drive content and engagement!