Psst, can I tell you a secret? I’m a Director of a digital marketing agency but for the life of me I just don’t get social media. I know I should be out there on Twitter and Facebook but I don’t like it, it feels both too personal and too impersonal. I meet lots of other people who feel exactly the same way as me and we all have the vague suspicion that the rise in social media is a mirage, designed to sell us more stuff.
Luckily I am surrounded by a brilliant team who love all things social and who pin, share, tweet and blog just because they like it. At a recent Growth Accelerator seminar on sales and marketing I was reminded about why, despite my scepticism, I do believe social media marketing is essential for all businesses. I can both dislike it and champion it and here’s why:
I am not your target market
Well, I’m someone’s target market, but not necessarily yours. There are lots of people who love social media and for your product or service it may be the perfect way to access your target market. Social media is about tribes and networks; if you nail your niche target market, work out where their tribe hangs out on social media and then tailor activity at them, then social media works. There is loads of evidence of the success of social media for all sorts of businesses – and not just big budget, big business . I love Papadelli’s Twitter , Kettlewell Colour’s Facebook page, and the Dollar Shave Club’s YouTube phenomenon, but it’s not a blunt instrument or a panacea for good marketing groundwork.
I am not young anymore
I love email, my dad still writes letters. Turns out preferred communications are a generational thing and geographical thing . Social media will become more prevalent; that’s the only conclusion you can draw given the rise in smartphones and the way the SMS generation connect with each other. Even if your target market isn't using social media today, they will be and will expect your business to be using it too. A social profile will become as essential as a website - you can’t ignore it as a business tool.
I am not a personality fit
Turns out I am quite unsociable, introverted and task orientated; my head is always somewhere else and I don’t have time to just hang out on social media. My hunch is that social media usage is strongly related to personality type and luckily most people do not fall into my rather insular personality type! The world is full of people who do like to hang out, connect and share. Apply a different mind-set and there is a world of opportunity. But you have to think differently and not assume that social will reach everyone –it’s not about the mass market, it’s about a segment of your market, the segment that likes to connect and share.
I am not interested in others’ opinions
The internet has revolutionised the way I research and buy products – I rely on it heavily, but that doesn’t mean that I spend lots of time looking at review sites or canvasing others’ opinions. However, the internet is becoming an increasingly popular way to express views about both good and bad products and services. Even if you aren't talking about your brand on social media, others are. You are not in control of the message on social media – that is part of its appeal. Whether or not you agree with it, understanding what others are saying about your business should be a compelling reason to at least manage your social presence. It turns out that whether or not I use social media is immaterial, others do. It can be frustrating, time consuming and seemingly pointless and it is rarely a quick fix to getting you more orders or customers. Most importantly, like any other marketing communications channel, it needs to be helpful and authentic; successful social media is genuinely sociable not just cynical marketing ploy.
And the moral of the story is that you need to be doing social media for your business, but in a targeted and nuanced way that appeals to the element of your target market that uses social channels. If you don’t like it, my best advice is to take a leaf out of my book and get someone who loves social media to do it for you :)