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Oct 2014 03

are you committed to social media?

Posted in blog
commited to social media

Without exception all of the Marketing box’s clients have social media on their agenda.  Social media strategies can and do produce some great results depending on your objectives, which as we have already discussed before need to be well thought out.

Everyone has a social media strategy.  Even if you ignore it completely that’s a deliberate strategy, since no-one can argue it isn’t relevant to every marketer.  As a vehicle for communication it isn’t going to go away.

The clue is in the name of course.  Social.

It implies, rightly, some sort of interaction or two way dialogue between two parties.  In marketing terms this means between a potential buyer or influencer and you, the seller.

And herein lies the problem.  Firstly, you have to have something to talk about, and secondly, you have to actually talk, or at least respond.  And both of these things, particularly the second, take time and energy to do.

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people say, quite sincerely, that they will take on the responsibility of providing content for their social media strategy.  And nine times out of ten they fail or have to rethink further down the line, because they had little or no comprehension just quite how much commitment is needed to provide just the content, let alone respond or monitor to the social networks you create or join.

Even where companies have pencilled in an employee to take on the role, it is often on top of their normal full time responsibilities or where someone has shown an interest. More often than not, this is a junior who “understands twitter an’ all that”.  They may understand twitter, but do they understand your company and your market well enough to produce quality content or hold a meaningful conversation, and have you given them the remit, support and empowerment to do so?

By its very nature social media is often ad hoc.  Social media “gurus” (we hate them too) are often quoting anecdotes about Starbucks or Pepsi who managed to listen to an individual and address his specific needs.  They then say you can replicate this experience through smart social media techniques and turn yourself into company that ’really listens’.

This, we say, is great. Never the less it still relies on the knowledge and wit of your employees to monitor the chatter (which let’s face it can be overwhelming) , recognise opportunities and take decisive action, be it responding to or sharing relevant articles or addressing the needs of a specific customer /potential client directly.

Apart from needing people who understand your company strategy fairly well, what the gurus don’t tell you is quite the amount of time and resources needed to fund this type of activity.  Often the examples quoted are large corporates who have the marketing budgets to properly address it or they are online sites whose sole aim is to drive traffic to their site to create revenue (mashable and Linkedin being two good examples of good content filterers).

SME’s or medium sized businesses whose main aim is to sell more services or widgets are far less likely to have the budget or the willingness to justify the required investment for what is an unquantified  return.

The fact is that if you are going to use social media seriously as a means of interacting with your potential customer base, you have to commit the time, knowledge and resources to do it properly.

Otherwise you may as well not do it in the first place.

How many websites have you visited where they started enthusiastically with a flourish of news feeds, articles and commentary, and now haven’t updated it for over six months?  What impression does that give about the people behind it?

Here at the Marketing box we made a conscious decision early on to keep our social media strategy simple and manageable.  We use it mainly to share thoughts on relevant topics aimed at helping fellow brand marketers and those responsible for marketing budgets.  Where time permits, we will comment on other articles or provide links back to our site.  Our aim is to drive people to read our articles and hopefully browse our site, and to ultimately use or recommend our services.  We put our limited time and energy into the articles themselves, and keep our social media feeds (twitter, facebook) clean to act as a catalogue to our articles for new subscribers.  In terms of sharing non-original content, we leave that to others of which there are many.

Controversially, we made the deliberate choice of turning off the ability to comment from the very start, to limit the commitment to feedback and ongoing discussion that we realistically know we cant keep up to.  Like many businesses, our main focus has to be servicing the clients we do have.  Much as we’d like to, servicing a fully integrated and engaged social media strategy is a full time occupation in itself.

Some might argue that we are not being very social ourselves, and you could say they are right.

But it works for us.

You have to decide, realistically, what works for you.

If we were at a hypothetical party, we’d like to think that we wouldn’t say as much as many others, but when we did it was interesting and people listened (ooooh get us!).  We’d hope they would remember us positively. The party is after all extremely crowded, and is already full of people shouting rather loudly with little to say, or repeating what someone beside them just said.

The party is also full of people who began by saying a lot, and who have now fallen deathly silent…


Posted by: Rob Paton, Director, The Marketing Box