3 Reasons To Be On Social Media… And 6 More Not To Over-do It
I’ve always been a bit surprised at this rush to be present on social media. It seems like virtually every article or blog post or any other form of content is now followed by a string of logos.
At a minimum, there are usually half a dozen of them (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube and an e-mail share) but it’s not uncommon to see several others show up increasingly (Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit etc).
The need to be present on social media is no longer in doubt. Here are the top 3 reasons:
1) Building a community
The pace of growth of social has skyrocketed. Depending upon the type of industry/category that you operate in, it’s quite likely that you can build a community of users around your brand. These are audiences that feel a need to connect with you because you have great content to share.
Social media has largely been a youth phenomenon across geographies and cultures. If you’re a mass consumer brand like Coke or Levi’s or Nike or similar brand, your audiences are more likely to be hanging out here.
Younger audiences are no longer restricted to traditional sources of information/entertainment – newspapers, TV, radio etc. They are quite happy to get their information/entertainment from branded content as well, as long as they clearly perceive value.
2) Driving engagement
Unlike what marketers of an earlier believed ‘Build it and they will come’, social media already has a large pool of passionate and committed users who are actively seeking your brand out in the crowd. Reeling them in is not a problem, but retaining them will certainly be a tough challenge.
While they may feel instinctively that it is worth their time and effort to stay connected to all the latest action – whether it be information updates about the brand, coupons, give-aways, quizzes or more – they will be equally quick to leave if you do not keep them sufficiently engaged.
3) Being relevant
The greatest possibility offered by social media is the ability to personalise messages according to the medium and audience.
Rather than a one-size-fits-all message, you can tailor your messages according to occasion, usage, event and any of several parameters. And all this can potentially be done in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional media.
Far more worrying is why you should be careful before you rush in to every available social media property.
1) “We’ve got to be here, there, everywhere!”
This may sound like a reasonably good idea even if it is definitely weak strategy. But it cannot constitute a sufficiently good reason to dive in. Are you clear why you want to be on Facebook? Does LinkedIn even fit into your strategy? What about Pinterest or Instagram – will you be able to pull it off?
2) One size definitely does not fit all
Creating relevant content is not an easy task. Making it engaging enough to keep your audiences hooked and come back wanting more is about the toughest task your content team will grapple with. Which is why most brands’ take a brochureware approach to rolling out content.
There is simply not enough content available to suit the dynamics of each medium nor has sufficient thought been given to why we’re present on each medium. Sometimes, less is really more.
3) Understanding your audience
Each type of social media property attracts a differentiated and unique type of audience. Are your audience’s expectations likely to be in sync with what you have to deliver? Instagram and Pinterest, for example are fine examples of visual storytelling where your content needs to be delivered with little or no textual content. Does your brand allow you to pull this off?
4) The fatigue factor
Let’s face it. How many of our audiences do we realistically expect to track our presence on each of our properties? It may be a brand manager’s dream come true to imagine a customer following us on each, but the reality is far different. You may build likes, your shares and re-tweets may be going through the roof but that is not translating into much in concrete terms. It is no wonder then that the vast majority of brand managers have a glum look when reviewing social media performance with their agencies.
5) “Let’s do a viral”
How often have we all at some point sat around a conference table and heard someone suddenly pipe up with a “Guys, let’s do a viral!”. One does not most certainly set out to do a viral; it is achieved through hard work and a sound understanding of the power of honest story-telling. Which is why that grainy video of a dog shot on an entry-level smartphone has just as much chance to become the next viral hit as a production costing several thousand dollars.
6) Social media is a sprint, building a brand is a marathon
The beauty of social media is that it potentially gives everyone the power to proclaim “I Am The King Of The World”. Never in the history of human civilisation has so much power been placed in the hands of so many. However, that power comes with the recognition that brands now have the luxury of taking a series of small, discrete steps to measure and evaluate their performance. Social media can be whatever you want it to be and some more, but it’d be a grave mistake to believe that your efforts here will give you the success you seek.