Trying to do social media marketing that actually works grows more difficult by the day. In fact, Facebook is regularly throwing advertisers right out the back door of the castle. To get back in, companies are often required to redo their sites and behavior in ways that neuter effectiveness. Do not underestimate this problem.
However, despite the changing marketing landscape, there are still two things that haven’t changed and most likely never well. Let’s take a look.
The Marketing Success Triangle Has NOT Changed
Right markets get the right message by the right media.
Simply broadcasting a message to millions via social media accomplishes little for most businesses. Companies like GoPro and Red Bull are great examples of brand-builders using viral videos and social media to rise from obscurity to fame in the marketplace.
But your business is probably not akin to theirs. You have to be very careful to model and emulate businesses that have much more in common with your own. Take capital and human resources, for example. If you’re funding your business’s growth from its profits or from money borrowed by mortgaging your home and your grandma’s wheelchair, you’re in an entirely different place than a company into which hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital and Wall Street money flow.
Further, viral explosions aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, as Greg Levitt, co-founder of 33Across.com, a social media sharing platform, admits. From his firm’s research:
- Consumers are most likely to share articles, news and content related to science, but only 9 percent of person-to-person recipients click on the shared links regarding these topics.
- Timely news and political items are less widely shared at 2 percent, but the click rates are 86 percent and 77 percent, respectively.
- Business-related: Only 4 percent share and 24 percent click on the shared links.
- Health: 3 percent share, 15 percent click.
- Celebrity and entertainment: 2 percent share, but 40 percent click.
- Consumer reviews of products, businesses: 1 percent share, 4 percernt click.
- Personal finance: 1 percent share, 11 percent click.
(The above stats were based on surveys of 500 publishers of online content.)
Levitt explains the wide disparity between share and click rates as “ego sharing.” That is, senders sharing content they believe will boost their perceived intelligence, informed status, etc. regardless of whether they think recipients will find it interesting or not. The overall average is 3 percent sharing of content and 24 percent of recipients clicking on shared links.
To me, this says there are only two useful plays: First, work with a tightly targeted list of thought-leader, market-leader and influential recipients to deliver content of high interest and value that enhances their status if shared — to hit or beat the 3 percent bar, but so that the 24 percent of those recipients who are shared with are ideal for you. Or, second, you need a massive volume outreach so the 3 percent matters.
The stats about forwarding/sharing of “reviews” about products and businesses suggest that angst over this — and time and money spent on it — may be overdone.
Ironically, and in the face of what I’ve pointed out above, you can make a case that it’s important to include social media as part of your integrated marketing plan. But approach it strategically, with the same direct-response and sound business principles that you would in any other media channel.
The Stuff of Bank Deposits Has NOT Changed
You can’t go to the bank and deposit likes, views, retweets, viral explosions, social media conversations or brand recognition. Bankers are extremely narrow-minded. They won’t even accept vegetables grown in your backyard garden or bitcoin. They want real money.
You must insist on exactly the same thing from all media. Contrary to popular belief, no media is different. No media gets a pass because it’s different. Don’t be fooled. Be open-minded, creative and opportunistic, but always keep a watchful eye on the bottom line.
Opportunism and skepticism are not mutually exclusive. They can and should work in concert, like partners, just as Walt Disney, the visionary, and Roy Disney, the money watcher, worked successfully in tandem. Approach social media this way, and you’ll avoid being burnt.