Ask Any Social Media Expert: Social Media Marketing Has Jumped The Shark
Let’s get this conversation off on the right foot. If you’re Gary Vaynerchuk or you’re promoting socks, then social media is probably perfect for you. But for the rest of us, you can forget it.
Take LinkedIn, for example. What a total mess. Stream after stream of self-promotional videos, post after post of sponsored ads and article after article of meaningless content. My stream is a total waste of time.
If I wasn’t in marketing, I’d opt out of the entire network.
Facebook is only slightly better, and that’s just because Mark Zuckerberg decided to try and go back to his roots and make it about real friends, not fake friends trying to advertise to me. My Facebook feed is entirely Tasty videos (which don’t get me wrong, I love, but come on). Most people under 30 don’t even use Facebook anymore, so how long does Facebook have before it has to reinvent itself, too?
Twitter, yikes! Another steady stream of self-promotional articles along with irrelevant and random thoughts from people who I don’t even remember why I’m following.
Then there’s Instagram, which is primarily for stars and celebrities to promote their projects and their products.
What have we done to social media?
By the way, I know that I am fully responsibility for the mess. I’m contributing to it and I promote similar behavior for our clients. I am not blaming anyone, but I can claim that this just isn’t working anymore, and I can make sure that my clients don’t spend any money or waste any time trying to make what is clearly and dramatically broken work for them.
If you are only going to promote your blog articles, random videos and promotional content on social media, you’ll be contributing to what’s wrong with the entire channel.
Social media networks should not be a super highway where you flush your content out into the world, hoping it gets in front of someone who cares. Instead, it should be a platform for you to disrupt, share insights, educate, enlighten and take a stand (no, not politically, but professionally).
You have plenty of opportunities to share a disruptive idea that gets people thinking, talking and sharing. For example, a post on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago was, “LinkedIn Should Ban Video? Yes Or No?” It sparked an interesting string of comments, posts and conversations. To me, this is where social media shines.
Creating thought leadership, disruption and content that gets shared takes a lot more work than simply auto-posting a blog article designed to help you rank for a keyword.
First, to disrupt your market, you need a disruptive message. That takes strategy, message creation, storytelling expertise and planning.
While we do this with our clients as part of our engagement (a mandatory part), a lot of agencies and internal marketing teams don’t take the time to come up with this position, and as a result they lack any type of thought leadership or disruptive content.
Take the time to give your company a voice: a loud voice, a strong voice, a voice that can be heard through all the noise, clutter and distraction. It will be worth it.
People are on social media in huge numbers for a reason. It’s going to sound a bit academic, but it’s because we’re all somewhat narcissistic. A lot of people want to be celebrities, they want their own channel and they think they have something interesting to say. The tools today have made it very easy for people to create their own self-promotional content.
In their own minds, they are stars. One of the best ways to leverage the behavior we talked about above is to use social media to start conversations. People want to talk, they want to share and they want to be stars — give them that chance.
One of the best people on LinkedIn is Matt Heinz. He regularly posts simple one-line conversation starters. A week ago, he posted, “Asking what marketing costs is the wrong question. Asking instead what it is worth provides a much better answer.”
When we create content for clients, we’re working hard to create connected conversation starters that lead audiences to start thinking about the challenge, issue or problem. This gets people talking. Then you can wrap up the conversation with your content, which should help answer the questions, move the conversation forward or provide some new perspective.
One excellent use for social media remains underused, and that’s for sales to target key prospects through their public information available on social media.
Account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns almost always start with connect plays. How do we get connected to the people who we should be talking to?
How do we get connected to the executives who should be aware of our company, products and services? Social media allows marketing and sales teams to find those people, get to know those people (in some cases intimately) and then tailor the connect outreach accordingly.
Some of the connect plays often involve personal aspects.
What sports teams does the contact follow? What city do they live in? What do they like to do in their free time?
What groups are they in? What groups are they in that you could also join? What events do they attend? What events do they attend that you could attend (or have attended in the past)?
What mutual connections or friends do you have in common (if any)?
What companies do they follow and why? If your key contact is in a HubSpot User Group, it’s a good bet they use HubSpot at work. Could you connect on that shared interest?
Mining a key ABM contact’s social media content, using it to help get past the connect stage, and tailoring a disruptive and compelling message with an offer are key plays in an ABM campaign playbook.
Social media does provide some efficiencies and insights that can help you drive connects more efficiently.
Today, people are happy to post on social media even before they contact you directly. It’s safer (to some extent) to post than to engage with the provider.
But they are expecting you to monitor your social channels, and if you’re not, you might be missing an opportunity to proactively respond to a service issue or a negative review.
As we help more companies look at customer service as a revenue generation opportunity, we’ve been arming customer service teams with scripts, messaging and tools to better respond to social-media-generated inquiries or complaints.
How you respond, how quickly you respond and the quality of the experience generated in that response can help turn an unhappy prospect or customer into an advocate.
This means you need to monitor all of your social channels. It means you need to deploy a social listening tool that keeps tabs in a more automated way, alerting people who can take quick action to engage, diagnose and respond in a remarkable way, with remarkable solutions and remarkable messaging.
With a proactive playbook, it’s relatively easy to turn these tricky social media situations into opportunities for people (your prospects) to share and talk about how your company handled their situation gracefully and even elegantly. It can become a win-win for everyone.
Your prospects are getting older. Like it or not, your future prospects are going to want to talk to you the way people in their 20s talk to their friends. Text, Snapchat, WhatsApp, chat and other tools are becoming much more prevalent in the communication tool kit for the next generation of executives.
If you’re not ready to support instant gratification, you’re going to miss out on revenue opportunities. Social media does provide them an opportunity to reach out and attempt to talk to you directly.
Chat gives website visitors a chance to get immediate answers and make faster, more efficient decisions regarding their buyer journey. Your company has to be capable of delivering a similar experience.
You have to monitor and enable Facebook Messenger. You need to able to text and respond instantly to chat requests. Yes, it’s a new way to do business, but it’s how your prospects want to talk to you.
More and more of your prospects are going to want to talk to you in this way with these tools. You should be working now to allow them this level of access and response. Notice that we’re no longer looking at social media (any of the social media platforms) as lead generation channels or as channels to drive new visitors to your website.
However, you could make the argument that some of the recommendations here may have a related effect. For example, if you did publish some transformational and disruptive thought leadership, it could trigger additional visitors to your website and some new leads into your sales process.
But I would consider that gravy as opposed to expected results. Of course, some of the recommendations are also connected to lead generation tactics like account-based marketing, which make them subsets of that bigger program.
It just comes down to expectations, priorities and the amount of time you invest in a specific area of your marketing. Social media is quickly becoming more like email than the web. You do it because you have to and it has some marginal value, but you don’t invest a ton of time trying to make it work better. It is what it is.
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