Social Media’s Great Expectations (OMG!)
Now that digital media has overtaken our lives, it’s worth noting that about a decade ago, most of us didn’t use e-mail – and today it consumes most of our day.
Add to that all of the other online resources, from browsers to Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Quora and much, much more, what we now refer to as social media has grown to become a surprising cohesive media network that operates on a very personal level.
Since social media has become so invasive, it’s only natural that ad and marketing agencies get into the content game. Here at JP, like most major agencies, we have a whole department devoted to it. In fact, I’ll leave it to Tanya to address the social media revolution with much greater understanding than I, but I can’t resist getting my two cents’ in.
Advertisers are accepting the need for our participation in their social media platforms, but we all should admit – and come to terms with – the idea that social media is ever-evolving. I’ve found that the best way to work with it is to simply do it.
For instance, over the past year, with no prior experience except my ability to craft good sentences, I became a blogger for an terrific site with 500,000 unique daily visitors called AfterElton.com. You can see my articles by clicking here.
That being said, and with the understanding that I don’t really know all that much more about social media than anyone else, here are a few more or less positive statements on what I’ve learned about the connection between social media and marketing:
Content is king.
It really helps to write something that other people want to read. (I know that’s as helpful as telling you to only send your resume to companies that are going to hire you, but think of how wasteful the opposite action would be.) It’s just that there is so very much content available, and people really don’t want to take the time to read typical advertising messages. If you’re using social media to talk about your company, make sure your messages are ebrief, to the point, informative and, above all, entertaining for your most likely customers. Selling a product description is a marketing technique of the past. Take the time, energy and resources to establish your professional reputation, tell your company story, and engage your audience. Have fun.
Contacts are precious.
Followers, connections and unique visitors in social networks help you spread the word. If you can inspire a single person to re-post or re-Tweet your contribution, you’re on your way to going viral. That’s why it’s important to collect interested, vital followers who will help you spread the word. It may be easy to buy fans and collect contacts, but you can’t buy a meaningful relationship that will continue your conversation. A small handful of real connections – devoted, interested customers – are worth more than thousands of uninterested “contact lists”. Real connections have an investment in your content, will interact, and pass it on. Fake contacts will remain ghosts and do little other than haunt your network. Whether you have 200 or 200,000 followers, if they are devoted to you, they will help your message be heard.
It doesn’t hurt to start a blog.
Look, I joined a popular blog owned by Viacom and my Twitter followers increased. I’ve used my blog notoriety (such as it is) to help market some out-of-print fiction I’ve resurrected on Amazon Kindle. But anybody can – and maybe everybody should – start a blog. Thanks to cross-promotion, over the last four months the audience for the blog you’re reading now has mushroomed, and I feel fortunate for that. So yes, if you’ve got something to say, publish it in a blog. You’ll have readers eventually if you have something they want to read. To get attention, you’ll have to work hard. Besides writing blogs, I’m active commenting on others’ blogs, I provide content wherever it’s accepted, I cross-promote on all the social networks – in short, I work to spread content through as many networks as I can. That’s my job, my avocation, my hobby and, I think, my DNA.
Be interesting and people pay attention.
It’s very crowded out there. There are millions of people writing billions of words and posting trillions of graphics. But the fact of the matter is, provocative statements get attention. Think of the silly items that people repost on their Facebook pages, like cute kittens, dumb signs and political humor. The most re-posted items are usually the ones that draw a snicker from us, that “I wish I’d thought of that” kind of reaction. Making advertising this effective is not easy, but make it your goal. And remember who you’re talking to: old, young, male, female, it makes a difference in the “voice” you use. The other day, in a room full of young people, a mature manager pointed out she’d recently flown out of the airport where Buddy Holly died. The abject silence following that statement made clear that most in the room had no idea who that was. Remember that when your references date you, you’ll feel awful about it in the morning.
Before I forget, “contacts” and “readers” are not the same.
How many times have you been a victim of this: you visit a site, or accept a contact request from LinkedIn and all of a sudden you’re bombarded with e-blast newsletters in your e-mail box, stuff you didn’t register for or want. Were you asked permission to be added to the e-mail list? Probably not. Way too many advertisers confuse contacts with potential customers. sending junk electronic mail to people who didn’t ask for it will result in unhappy unsubscribers and spam reports. It’s important to inform potential contacts that you have a communications system in place, and to ask their consent to join it before you send them anything.
We humans were built for conversation.
I ran across this statement in a terrific article about social media: “Only one percent of participants will create content or start discussions, 9% will respond and 90% will do neither. Accept this fact and do not be disappointed if not all your audience will converse with you.” I’ve found that discovering the first reader to start a conversation is sometimes tough, but once you do, you’re on your way. You can help find them by being open in the first place, and responding to their questions, and accepting their controversial viewpoints. It takes time, but you can get there.
Social media is mass media.
I made this point earlier, but if social media is made up of individuals conversing with individuals, how can it be considered mass media? Because it’s so freakin’ big, that’s why. Your conversation with one person – trading words, pictures, statements, ideas – has the potential to virally spread throughout the network, from your keyboard to millions of people. Yes, it starts as a single conversation, but it can amplify to reverberate around the world. Social media operates democratically, but the result can be revolutionary.
Most important, learn to spell.
They will not read you if they cannot understand you. You don’t have to write like Charles Dickens to be successful in social media (though he would have loved the medium) but it helps to put your best foot forward. Please, before you publish, make very sure all of the letters are in the right order.
As Sonny & Cher pointed out, the beat goes on.
Remember that social media and content marketing are not quick and easy solutions for business success. It all takes time and a talent for writing and publishing at exactly the same moment that one or more people are interested in reading what you have to say. When you take the time necessary to develop your online reputation – and understand that it’s not a one lane road – you’ll have a lot of fun doing the work. I think social media engagement is a multi-way highway that requires precision, stamina, awareness and no small amount of humor.
Remember, as in all things, it also helps to enjoy the ride.
– Art Reker, Account and Creative Executive