Social marketing is not a miracle

Courtesy: “First dog on the moon”

I am getting pretty annoyed with the enthusiastic panting of the toothy self appointed social media guru brigade extolling the ‘awesomeness’ (my current second most hated word) of social media.

They give the serious advisors amongst us a bad name.

It happened again during the week. At a casual SME meetup, there was one of these types there flogging the line that all you had to do was give him some money, and you would make it back 10X (actual claim) because he was able to focus his specialist and exclusive Social Media expertise on your objective and ‘Abra Cadabra’ money would appear.

The loaves & fish story  have nothing on this lot.

Social media is just a fragment of the challenge of Social Marketing enabled by the technology that not just encourages, but demands that your ‘targets’ (will have to think of another word) have the opportunity and means to communicate with the marketer.

As I have heard it said, ‘it is not communication until the intended message is received, understood and has elicited a response’.

Seems to me there are a few questions you should ask yourself about your message:

  • To what extent does it assist the prospect move along the journey to a transaction?. We do not engage in social marketing for our health, it is for a commercial outcome. Therefore measure it against the progress towards that outcome, recognising there are probably many other things in your message  mix, from deliberate marketing communication aimed at the prospect, to random stuff like how clean was the company  delivery truck was when it passed your prospect at the lights last week.
  • How does the communication add value to the prospect?. If you cannot add value in some way, why should the message assist the journey to a transaction?
  • What do they do next as a result of seeing your message?. If they do nothing, it is just another of the 95 gazillion messages they might see today, if they do something as a result of seeing it, whole new ball-game? It is great to have someone take action as a result of your message, greater if that action not just moves them down the transaction path, but if they also share it with their networks. In effect they are not only acknowledging the value of your message, they are endorsing it to their networks. This is the gold at the end of the social marketing rainbow.

Social marketing is pretty easy to write and talk about in a superficial way, but very hard to put into meaningful practice. It takes careful and creative analysis of your prospects  and your own value proposition, as well as the construction,  content and nature of the messages sent. This is not an exercise conducted with a fairy wand and pixie dust, it takes serious marketing thinking and experience.

If it sounds almost too good to be true, grab your wallet and get out, because it almost certainly is.