Why Social Media needs to be Re-evaluated
Over the last 5 years, social media marketing has grown from a platform of skepticism by brands to an essential tactic of marketing plans. Unfortunately, as more and more businesses further incorporate social media into their marketing, its primary use and strategic place has diminished. It has become the “go-to” for many businesses and professionals who simply don’t understand it. Unfortunately, it is these users who are simply ruining its effectiveness for those who do understand it.
There are countless problems with a majority of social media marketing plans. Are you guilty of them? Let’s have a look at a few major ones:
For top executives to accept social media as a marketing tactic, marketing professionals had to prove to them it worked. As marketers always encounter, executives want to see their efforts tied to a specific sales number. The thought is, if sales didn’t increase, what was the point of running the marketing?
The solution: apply cost per acquisition/sale/lead metrics to social media. Facebook and other social media outlets went further to develop additional metrics, like percentage of audience reached and amount of users talking about a post.
Unfortunately, as these KPIs were developed, they forgot several key aspects of sales and marketing.
- Not all sales can be directly tied to online actions. The digital environment is a confusing, complex place. Just because someone likes a page, doesn’t mean they will buy your products in a way traceable to you. Is someone who likes one of your posts more likely to buy a product than someone who doesn’t? Possibly. Is it enough to sweat because overnight a post generated 1,000 less likes than a previous one? No. There are too many variables and we’ve taught ourselves to look in black and white.
- Branding is important. Many marketers now forget the importance of just seeing an ad. Branding develops brand preferences, favorability, and advocates. It creates long-term customers who might not be in the market today, but have in the past and will in the future.
- Actions will decrease over time. As you funnel off the users most likely to convert, your cost to convert those further up in the sales funnel will be higher. Many brands want actions to increase year over year (just like how financial people want to see 10% increases in sales Y/Y). This is unrealistic, especially for those smaller businesses who have much smaller audiences. At some point in your business life cycle, you’re going to have to primarily focus on retaining your customers and not converting new ones.
Lack of integrated marketing communications
It is extremely disappointing to see disjointed marketing efforts across different platforms. It’s frequent to see brands running promotions on one social network and not another (often times not even mentioning it). This is where many efforts fall short. Embrace the different platforms. Yes, some have different audiences. However, your messaging should be consistent wherever you are (for a majority of brands). If you’re running a campaign on Facebook, leverage other marketing outlets- not just social media, but your website, commercials, magazine inserts, etc. It strengthens your message, spreads word about the campaign, and creates more success. For a great example, check out what Hugo Boss did last spring across multiple platforms.
Poor business and marketing knowledge
Businesses everywhere are hopping on social media more than any other form of marketing because of its perceived low-cost of entry. For many of these businesses, it’s the first time they’ve even considered using any form of marketing, and unfortunately it shows. A few rules to follow:
- Just because it is cheap does not mean you should use it.
- If you’ve never developed a marketing plan for your business, do so. Before attempting anything social. Or anything marketing for that matter.
- Interns are great for social media knowledge as to how it works. However, if they don’t have a business or marketing background, this just spells disaster. Even those that do lack the knowledge you have about your business. So, if you do use an intern to update your social media, give them strategic guidance and make sure what they’re doing makes sense. This is a great place for many young professionals to shine, but they still need your insight into strategic manners.
As more businesses enter social media, so do the brand posts and ads on social media. The result is an overwhelming environment for consumers. For those who like many brands on Facebook, for example, it’s very easy to have the newsfeed full of brand messages, and this isn’t effective for anyone, and often results in users unliking a brand or hiding their posts (I can admit- I do this often).
Why the issue?
Brands post way too frequently. It’s likely due to the metrics marketers and social media platforms have developed themselves (you’ve reached 78% of your audience- congratulations!). Unfortunately, this reach doesn’t tell the whole story. Did this audience actually want to see your post? Did they just scroll over it? Are you filling up their newsfeed every hour? Evaluate yourself.
The “plug and chug”
Social media is not something you can just scream your message on and hope for the best. It takes attention to your audience. It takes smart strategy. It takes the right voice. Many businesses are not doing this.
A great example is Twitter, especially for business professionals. The majority of my newsfeed is spam, with some users posting several times a minute just to get their message across. The result? A clouded, unhelpful newsfeed that really doesn’t provide much value. Over time, I’ve unfollowed many users just because of this.
Users want to see authenticity. Those scheduled tweets? Those minute after minute posts saying you have the best product? Not the best way to get this point across. Be real. Be true. Speak with your audience, not to.
Marketers need to stand up and start a marketing revolution. The direction social media marketing is going is not the best one. It’s up to marketers to change this. Stand up to executives. Get back to the real thoughts behind marketing. Make marketing efforts smarter. Make the consumer want to love your brand. That’s what marketing is. And it’s the direction we need to go.