Ask yourself these questions:
(1): How many likes do you need to have on Facebook before someone buys your product?
(2): How many followers on Twitter does it take before the phone rings?
(3): How many shares on Instagram or views on YouTube do you need before someone says I’ll take it?
The debate is raging over social media. The big question being asked: “Is it advertising, PR or something else?”
While the internet and the marketing opportunities it provides has proven to become a non-negotiable for most advertisers, I am beginning to feel that the entire social media movement is looking similar to the internet before the first bubble burst.
Let’s take a trip back in time…Many years ago the conversation went something like this: “If you build your web site, you can shut down your brick & mortar operation. Your worries are over as you’ll have customers from all over the globe.”
A few years ago all we heard was “If you buy my SEO / SEM / PPC program, you’ll end up on page one of every search engine and guess what, your worries will be over as you’ll have customers from all over the globe.”
Which brings us to yesterday’s conversation: “Hey boss, I just met with a Social Media Guru who will post stuff all day long that will help us build followers. And since Facebook can be accessed from everywhere, we’ll reach people from all over the globe”.
The frustration being felt by advertisers is that they want every marketing dollar to lead to a sale. They also want this to happen sooner, not later. Social media is best used as reputation management, which is a long-term commitment.
If you want social media marketing to work for you, you’ll need to understand what it can and cannot do. Listed below is what social media will NEVER accomplish:
(1): Social media will never take the place of a sound marketing strategy. You need to plan, set objectives and measure the performance. “Just Do It” might work for Nike, it won’t with social media.
(2): Social media will never take the place of a well-executed media plan. While it’s true that adults are online every week, TV, radio, and print still deliver large bodies of consumers in one hit.
(3): Social media will not provide a quick-fix for your communication challenges. Social media is built around relationships, and those don’t come easy.
(4): Social media will not cover up a broken business. If you manufacture the worst widgets on the planet, practice poor customer relations or have products no one wants to buy, all the fans on Facebook won’t save you.
(5): Social media won’t provide free advertising. When you add the cost of boosted posts and sponsored content on top of the expense of having qualified experts manage your campaign, it’s not free.
Now, here’s what social media CAN do for you:
(1): Establish your company as the trusted expert. People buy from those they know and trust. If consumers see you providing useful, relevant content and participating in conversations without trying to sell something, your credibility will increase.
(2): Provide a channel of open dialogue between you, your customers and consumers.
(3): Make your internet marketing more effective by becoming more visible and easily found.
(4): Reach and communicate with younger demographics. The web and social media is the place to reach those young consumers who have no brand preference.
(5): Provide you with a means of proactive PR. Social media will give you the opportunity to communicate with those who have had a bad experience and are telling everyone they can. As you communicate with these people, others will listen in and watch how you handle things.
So where do you start? Find out if your customers are using this medium. If they are, find out where and then make a plan and start participating.
Ronald A. Heider is a 25+ year veteran of the advertising community and owner of HMA – Heider Marketing & Advertising, a Hampton Roads based agency that serves automotive marketers exclusively. Heider can be reached at www.hmaads.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.