Back when I was a teenager and young adult, the term “social media marketing” was more than a decade away from becoming the integral component of every brand’s marketing mix. I remember hearing rumblings about mobile marketing being the next big disruptor, but social media marketing? It sounded more like delusional science-fiction than something that would become adopted by the mainstream. Fast-forward a couple of decades and wow has the world changed. And changed fast! How could anyone have predicted the speed at which smartphones would take over the world and how fast people across all demographics would adopt social media as a form of daily communication and self-expression?
Possibly due to the speed at which social media integrated our lifestyles and influenced our daily rhetoric, many misconceptions still seem to linger about brands and their social media marketing. Being a social media agency, we receive a steady stream of inquiries and requests for proposals from companies from nearly every industry imaginable – some of which we’d never knew existed before they reached out and educated us. We have held countless conversations about social media marketing with a wide range of companies from the mid-market and enterprise level to funded startup brands and bootstrapped companies working out of home spaces. The demand for professional brand storytelling and credible social media strategy has never been higher than it is today. With that being said, there are still lingering misconceptions when it comes to marketing brands on social media. Independent of industry, scale, scope and location in the world, some companies still have ignorance when it comes to what it takes to become successful on social. Our company exists because many, many companies are in need of a real social media strategy. That’s great. This need creates a wonderful opportunity for us to work together and fully-optimize and integrate social into their annual marketing plan. However, let’s first dispel some of these myths about social media marketing that our agency still seems to encounter on a weekly basis.
Myth #1: Anyone at a Company Can Manage a Brand on Social
It all sounded easy. Remember those days not too long ago when leadership asked everyone to chip in and help manage “social by committee?” It started with a few uploads to Facebook and Twitter showcasing uninspired company photos taken with an employee’s cell phone – remember that awkward one of Joe in accounting? Yeah, that one got removed after being up on social for a year before the President stumbled upon it and had it deleted. Then there was that revolving door of receptionists that would post or share something to the company’s streams. Talk about a whole bunch of nonsense that bordered on brand-damaging content, let alone lacking brand-relevance. Then there were the interns. Let’s skip that debacle of an experiment.
Social media marketing done the right way requires skilled talent. Your brand should never hand its social over to an inexperienced marketer or marketing team without making sure there exist true capabilities and talent to develop, design, produce and execute the volume of creative needed to have successful social channels. Brands have never had the opportunity to be so public (and so exposed) as they are today. Social media presents a great opportunity to reach your intended audience but a curse if you’ve been squandering the opportunity and allowing your competitors to steal consumer eyeballs that could and should be yours.
Myth #2: Social Media Marketing is ONLY for Generating Brand Awareness
Yes. Social media marketing can get your brand in front of a lot of people. If set-up correctly with a social media community built over a period of time, the level of targeted brand awareness generated can become a game-changer for any brand in any industry. However, some companies approach social as if the marketing opportunity on social is purely about brand awareness. This mentality stems from an entire generation of marketers whose key objective was to generate large campaign-based splashes each year with commercials, billboards, sponsorships, banner ads and AdWords campaigns. I’m in no way suggesting that these other marketing strategies are not important. Quite the contrary. Every great marketing plan contains these elements but are then integrated with a social strategy. A key difference between many of those more traditional marketing methods and social media marketing, is that traditional tends to be about pushing brand messaging upon the general public. Social media marketing SHOULD be about building a relationship with your consumers by providing them value such as educational tutorials, user experience videos, or possibly more entertaining scripted content that can approach their audience with light-hearted, satirical pieces or emotionally-driven dramatic themes.
Here is an example of a short satire we wrote and produced for ImagiBrand that was inspired by the central marketing question that we feel all brands should be asking themselves – “Is Your Brand Respecting Its Audience on Social Media” with good content? We hope you enjoy our little short, “No Ordinary Day at the Office.”
At the end of the day, marketing on social media takes a continual stream of high-quality content from videos to photography to graphics. All of this content should be brand relevant and created specifically to not only communicate the appropriate brand messaging but capture your brand essence as well. Your brand is a living, breathing entity. It should have a distinct personality and voice that attracts fans and followers to engage. That’s the beauty of social media marketing.
Myth #3: Social Media Marketing is Cheap
Whenever we’re speaking on the phone with the leadership at a company for the first time, we quickly pick up on whether or not they respect social media. Surprisingly, maybe as many as half of those whom reach out to learn more about social strategy are simply fulfilling a company initiative to find the most cost-effective solution for their social. Why would any brand that wants success on social be seeking the cheapest option? If you are familiar with the old adage, “You get what you pay for in life,” then you know all too well how this holds true in pretty much everything we buy in our daily lives. There are certainly exceptions to this golden rule, but social media marketing is and should not be one them. Would you place your own children in the hands of an inexperienced nanny simply because he/she was the cheapest solution you could find? Of course not. Then why would you consider placing your very important brand story on social with a company selling a cheap social solution. You get what you pay for in life. If you desire no business result from social and don’t care about your brand reputation, then I suppose it doesn’t really matter what you do with your social streams. On the other hand, if you want consumers and business partners to be excited about your brand’s marketing efforts and approach to its business story, then social needs to be given an equal level of scrutiny that any commercial advertising campaign would receive.
What does a brand receive from a less credible, but cheap solution to their social media marketing? For the last few years, we’ve become aware of some truly questionable social media management services being provided by so-called social media consultants and agencies. The market simply got flooded by unqualified marketers that lacked business credibility and creative wherewithal. Instead, they offer cheap, cookie-cutter social marketing that offers little to no business value with what is being published on the social streams they manage. Even worse, some of these agencies are buying fake bots to like, share, retweet and even comment on their client’s business pages and social posts to create an illusion that they’ve magically generated support for the brand. It’s becoming a brand epidemic on social. Whether or not these brand pages are flagged and subsequently penalized by the social platforms for fake fans and fake engagement, they have forever rendered their social platforms absolutely useless for business development. Does anyone know of a bot that makes purchases?
Myth #4: Social Media is Less Important than Other Marketing Initiatives
Spending time and resources on Madison Avenue ad agencies and PR firms is extremely important. Having an annual presence at trade shows and conferences are a necessity in nearly every industry. In some cases, traditional ad campaigns in print and broadcast are an ideal way for a brand to make a large, quick (but expensive) splash in their market. However, that doesn’t mean your social media agency representation should be any less of a priority. Social media marketing excels when integrated with your other marketing efforts. When a brand invests in having a quality story relationship with their online consumers, they’re investing in more than just weekly videos and photos. They’re investing in the psychological phenomenon, the mere exposure effect, in which people naturally hold positive sentiments for a brand when they’re exposed to repeated exposures of this brand. What a missed opportunity it is for so many companies that aren’t taking advantage of daily exposures of their brand, its messaging and its story in the social streams of their current and prospective customers. The more exposure to quality storytelling and thoughtful product education a person receives, the more credible the brand appears and the easier it will be to trust the brand.
Myth #5: A Social Media Community Can GROW Overnight
Unless your brand has invested in a multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad campaign, your community will not grow overnight. Rome wasn’t built overnight. I would be highly suspicious if your brand’s social following jumped from zero to thousands or tens of thousands overnight. It simply doesn’t happen. A real and supportive community takes time to build. It takes a commitment to creating content which respects its audience. It takes a commitment to building long-lasting relationships with your consumers. It’s not push, push, push. It’s not sell, sell, sell. It’s what can we teach you? It’s what questions may we answer for you? It’s how can we entertain and engage with you?
We cannot stress the importance of starting your social strategy as early as possible. It takes time to develop your brand’s social media presence and discover its key target audiences that can grow into becoming a revenue-generating social media community. In our experience, one of the most common mistakes companies make is waiting until the last second to finally seek out a social media marketing consultation. The impetus is usually a failed product launch or a company panic to try and reverse a declining revenue trend. Don’t wait until your brand or product is facing dire straits before reaching out. All of this could have been avoided by simply starting early and starting with the right social team.
Myth #6: All Social Media Agencies are Created Equal
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to finding the right social media partner for your company. All of the marketing communications on websites for social media agencies all begin to sound the same. Everyone claims to be the best at social out there. The reality of finding legitimate social media agencies is quite scary. For instance, arrange an exploratory phone call with one of these agencies that come on your radar and you’ll more than likely be underwhelmed by their lack of business acumen and creative capabilities. Would you really trust your brand story with a bunch of inexperienced so-called marketers that only know how to write a caption, post a photo or curate another brand’s content? Are they discussing business strategy or just wanting to sell you a number of social channels and number of posts per week? Run away as fast as you can if that is the crux of your conversation. They know very little about optimizing your social for business results. They more than likely have no understanding of brand storytelling or professional creative for social. If your company isn’t seeking business results from social, then these types of agencies might be a cost-effective solution. Some companies just don’t want their social streams to look neglected if someone checks it out. Some companies don’t actually want their social streams discovered. That’s completely okay. Business social is not for all brands.
Been Searching For a Social Media Marketing Partner?
If you are leadership at a mid-market brand that hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunity available on social, a funded startup looking to discover its audience and grow its revenue streams or an established brand hoping to optimize its social channels with stronger and more consistent brand storytelling, then I encourage you to check out our various social media solutions below.
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