Social media is not a marketing tool. Unfortunately, many marketers and sellers are damaging this wonderful new communication technology with their Facebook ads, Promotional Tweets and unsolicited LinkedIn invitations. They are ignoring the very essence of the medium: Social Media platforms are a virtual café, not a digital billboard.
It all comes down to the 'conversation' rather than the 'message'. "That's obvious!" I hear you say, but why then is it so difficult for so many people to deal with it?
It's all become a 'follower fetish'
In itself it may be logical that this should have happened. Since the 60s - in the last century (!) - many marketing and sales tactics were based on the AIDA model; first draw Attention, then Interest, then Desire, and finally the Action or purchase. The basic idea: the model is a funnel so that the more attention I attract, the more people I'm going to move to action. The result? Mass advertising - flyers, posters, ads, phone calls and spam that is showered upon us daily.
Nowadays we, the recipients of these unsolicited messages, are screening ourselves from them more and more: 'No Junk Mail' stickers for the mailbox, Do Not Call Registers, spam filters, pop-up blockers and double opt-in legislation for email newsletters. The new Gmail interface design ensures than even fewer unsolicited commercial messages reach our eyes. And the 'advertising boys’ are obviously affected. They see their 'reach' consistently shrinking and are eagerly on the lookout for new ‘tricks’.
But why the surprise? For a number of years now we have been spending more and more time behind our computer screens. A screen crammed with unsolicited messages! Okay, the only difference being that the ‘unsolicited’ messages come from people we know or have selected ourselves (but that’s a small detail our 'classic' marketer conveniently prefers to ignore). 9 million Dutchmen on Facebook, 3.5 million on LinkedIn and Twitter. Must we have: Follow me, follow me!
Rather not... Go away with your advertising. Leave me in peace! If I have a special experience, then I'll discuss it with my friends. I don’t need you for that, Mr. Marketer.
How then to make the best of Social Media opportunities?
Online communication, and social media in particular, make our world more transparent and thus more honest and authentic. Marketers who would like to build an ‘image’ cannot deal with this properly because 'the truth' is simply not always all 'moonlight and roses'. So how can you deal with it?
It sounds simple, but it’s quite difficult nonetheless: use the new communication technologies in as many ways as possible in order to make your daily work easier and more enjoyable - except for marketing. Examples?
- Anyone can follow along, so share your questions, doubts and wonderment, and give people the chance to help or to share your thoughts.
- You can follow along with everyone, so listen actively to the discussions 'on the table' and figure out how you can make a valuable contribution.
- The medium is in real-time, so you can deliver services faster than ever and respond to unexpected situations.
- People especially utilize the mobile aspect of Social Media, so you can either help or entertain people on the move.
The result? You make sure that the experience with your product, service or event becomes so great, that I am willing to use my network, and therefore myself, to provide a service by pointing my followers to you. You will become the "golden tip" that I want to share with my friends and colleagues. Just calculate what that could mean for your 'reach'...
It’s all fun and games! (And be sure to ask for help, especially if you have difficulty in implementing any of this).
Freelance Project Manager, Entrepreneur and networker with a passion for events and Social Media. Gerrit is partner of How Can I Be Social (HCIBS), co-founder of Triqle Event Intelligence, board member of the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) in the Netherlands and professional speaker.