Six Reasons Social Marketing is at Risk - Social Media Explorer
Six Reasons Social Marketing is at Risk
Six Reasons Social Marketing is at Risk

So, Facebook turned 10 this past February. Ten! That’s double digits, big boy age. Facebook can walk to the store to buy candy by itself now. Ten is a big milestone. For a lot less than 10 years, marketers have been working to figure out just how to use social to attract and retain customers. And, in all honesty, we’re getting better at it. But, even as we polish our skills in social marketing, we marketers need to realize that our approach and the current climate is putting social marketing at risk.

Social-Media-RiskThe audience is onto us

If we don’t start by admitting that the audience is aware of our motivations and that we are in fact subsidizing the social media platforms, we will continue to spiral downward. We must recognize that our fans are not dumb. They know when we are selling. People do not like to be sold to, unless you are Lego and then you can make millions on a long-form ad. (Well played, Lego!) That being said, it is ok to ask for the sale, just don’t do it ALL the time.

We’re still talking to them, not with them

We are still monolog driven. Despite response models and community managers, we are still talking at them. If we want to get the amplification we desire from social, we must start communicating with our fans. It isn’t a simple poll or question post. That doesn’t do it, we need to invite them in with our content. We need to create new ways for people to interact with the brand. Remember, a huge percentage of people on Facebook are lurkers.

We’re not connecting

Social media evokes emotions. The stories that generate the most interest are either emotionally powerful or really funny. We are not effectively doing either of these things. We do not make them laugh or emotionally connect with them because we are busy selling. Because we lack this resonance, they are not reading our content and skipping over us. And being ignored is a marketers worst nightmare. So, stop selling and start trying to find smart ways to infuse personality, emotion or humor into your brand. Key word there: “smart”. Make sure it fits the brand.

We’re not putting them first

Essentially, we are interrupting their cup of coffee. Chances are, your customer is taking a quick break with coffee catching up with her network. And there we are trying to sell her frozen entrees. When you are creating content and scheduling it, try to find ways to fit into her day at the right time with the right message. Study your segment and their behavior. When are they accessing social and what are they saying. What are they consuming at that time of day. Then schedule content that fits into their mindset.

We’re not listening broadly

Putting our fans first means we are going to need to listen to them. And there are plenty of brands out there that have very active listening and monitoring strategies. However, I would bet that those same brands are only listening to the branded and competitor conversations and not the market or industry conversations. And this is a huge miss. If you are only listening in for your brand, we miss out on at least 80% of the conversation that is driving customers to make decisions outside of your brand. Listening broadly fills this gap and builds better content strategies that net results.

We’re not measuring the ROI

If you are still talking about fan count and engagement, your budget is going to be in danger. The C-suite does not fund based on those metrics. We need to start talking about the sales or leads that are driven by social. If we lose the customers in the manner above and lose the support of the c-suite, we might very well be doomed.

On the bright side, we have all the tools we need to change the way we engage people on social and how we position our results to executives. It is time to build thoughtful strategies to build trust with our fans and the people who fund our efforts.

We can do it. But, it’s time to start.

About the Author

Tracey Parsons
Since 1995, Tracey has been developing digital solutions. Currently SME Digital’s lead strategist, she continues to be dedicated to bringing cutting edge, thoughtful and measurable solutions to marketers. With more than 15 years in digital, Tracey not only brings vision, but the tools and strategies to execute against complex next generation concepts. She has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands to develop and devise cutting-edge social, mobile and digital marketing practices.
  • Very nicely described the points where we are lagging behind on using
    the Facebook. The detailed description of each GOODs and BADs of use of
    Facebook, and on how to use it to maximize our customer engagement is
    really engaging. Great read. Keep sharing.

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  • Grade-A article, Tracey! You’re absolutely right about not deceiving our audience anymore. They’re a long ways ahead of the marketing ploys, and marketers everywhere need to acknowledge that.

    It’s far more effective to acknowledge and engage your consumer in nonchalant interactivity than it is to outright push a service or product on them. That’s why Twitter is so effective. There’s not enough characters to sell sometimes, so it’s better to have real time discussions with your audience than to sell updates.

  • I would add that we are still not natively storytelling on each platform. We must respect each platform for it’s native language.

    Reality is that you can’t talk on Facebook the same as you do on Twitter.

    • Tracey Parsons

      Absolutely Patrick and honestly, it is the topic of a future post! Social media is not one size fits all!

  • Agreed on all points Tracey. Well, all except the last one. I can’t think of one social connection, one customer connection, that was ever concerned with my ROI. Nor should they be. They’re all about their needs and concerns. If we’re going to get down on their level and connect and converse, then ROI can’t be a factor. It’s a byproduct of putting them first.

    • Tracey Parsons

      It is a byproduct of putting them first, but if we cannot connect the effort of building a relationship we will cease to get funding for the effort. We need to prove that the effort is worth the expense. Fair?

      • Yes! I’m a marketing purist. I believe that all marketing should build trust and invite a purchase, donation, or whatever the economic model is. Marketing should sell your offering.

  • Tom Tucker

    Hi Tracey. You guys do great work at Social Media Explorer. But please note, that “social marketing” and “social media marketing” are two entirely different concepts.

    • Tracey Parsons

      Thanks Tom – note taken.

  • Sahail Ashraf

    Hello Tracey

    I highly recommend Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest book ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’ (think it’s three jabs (!). It perfectly encapsulates exactly what you are talking about. His advice on Twitter is especially prudent.

    Social is becoming more about building relationships now, and I am afraid the current situation (which you have described 100%) was caused by social’s inability (or reluctance) to monitor companies and ‘entrepreneurs’ right at the start.

    Give a snake oil salesman free rein, and the place will start to smell of snake oil.

    • Tracey Parsons

      We’ve heard a lot of good things about Gary Vee’s book. As I’ve said in the past, this is a new world order, so the old tactics won’t work well anymore. Evolve or die.


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