Social Media: Understanding the Differences
Why companies are starting to sour on Social Media.
Social media — including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the more business-like LinkedIn — has become the darling of the marketing world. But as the glamour begins to fade and reality sets in, companies are seeing that it’s not a magic pill. And they’re asking themselves the fundamental question: “Where’s the ROI?”
The answer isn’t that the technology doesn’t work or that the concept isn’t extremely cool. It’s not a lack of interest on the part of businesses to embrace social media: On the contrary, just take a look at any recent website and you’ll see a plethora of social media icons on the homepage. And, of course, it isn’t that consumers are unfamiliar with social media or reticent to visit a social media site. In fact, the stats point to astounding adoption rates across the board.
The answer, in a nutshell, is that if you don’t have a social media plan that’s integrated into your marketing structure and has relevant, up-to-date content, it can be a colossal waste of resources. And what a waste it would be to NOT utilized this powerful tool as effectively as possible.
As different as aardvarks and zebras
One of the first things a company needs to realize about social media is that Facebook and LinkedIn, for instance, are different animals. While all social media outlets have scalability, accessibility and immediacy in common, they serve distinct functions. For example, YouTube is a great way to demonstrate a product or method, while a Wiki (and yes, Wiki is considered a form of social media) is an authority-building tool. Facebook helps you connect with and engage customers and helps grow name and brand recognition, while LinkedIn is the foremost form of online networking.
Content is king
As search engines get smarter, content has to be smarter, too. So-called “content farms,” companies that employ freelancers to write articles crammed with keywords designed to satisfy search engine algorithms, produce low-quality articles that not only reflect poorly on your organization, but can also have a negative effect on your ranking. In fact, Google announced in February of this year that it was adjusting its algorithms to “”provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.” To increase your rankings, content should be thoughtful, well-written and relevant. If not, the search engines will see it as virtual junk.
So, what’s the plan?
It is a common error for a business to run out and get an “expert” to help them establish their social media identity. Social media needs to be evaluated alongside the rest of your marketing toolkit: advertising, SEM, public relations, video media, e-mail and direct marketing, out-of-home and broadcast media — in short, it has to fit into your brand strategy.
The best plan is to have one. Pay attention to content, because that’s what drives the sales engine. Know how you’re going to manage social media, and make sure that you have a partner who understands it and can help you make it work. And get you the ROI you expect.
Lead with the end in mind. One you’ve defined a realistic social media goal, and then build a viable solution that helps you meet that goal. Start by asking yourself a few questions:
- Who is your target audience – who are you talking to?
- What are your objectives – what action do you want your audience to take?
- Are your objectives realistic – is it time to take a gut-check?
- What tactics are you going to employ?
- Who will be responsible for the content – both concept and execution?
- What about metrics – how will you what’s working (or what’s not working)?
- How often will you monitor the social media site – and who will be responsible for evaluating and making improvements/adjustments?
- Who will be responsible for managing your social media presence?
We want to help you make sense of social media so it fits neatly into your overall marketing strategy and leads to success. Let our Social Media team know when you’re ready to craft a plan for your company’s social media assets.