Why Marketers and Companies Continue to #FAIL at Social Media ExecutionSocial media can be defined as communication by people using digital tools to have conversations with one or more known or unknown parties - individuals, groups, companies, brands. These conversations take place on social media sites like Facebook, but also on millions of blogs through comments, on microblogs (like Twitter), through smartphones, through mobile apps or Facebook apps, and even through “old school” tools like discussion boards and forums.
Many marketers who have excelled at traditional advertising – online or offline – have a hard time getting their arms around social media and what it means to them and their business.
Not just because it’s a different channel. And not just because it’s a discussion rather than a one-way push of information.
For many marketers, the difficultly exists because the definition of social media and associated tools are morphing and changing and being used differently on a weekly basis. And they're proliferating.
Getting your arms around the world of social media is a challenge that requires constant attention, constant change and constant learning – very unlike any other form of marketing or advertising.
Advertising has become pretty structured. Take TV, print, radio, outdoor, and even online display. There are agencies, buyers, creatives, producers, ad sellers. They all have their place in a tightly integrated world, delivering their piece of the puzzle and taking a cut along the way. Measurement is straightforward - there are standard metrics, measurement tools and services at the ready with comparisons to well-defined baselines.
Search engine marketing was the first push in a very new direction – where the rules of the game are dynamic, in motion, and can change on a dime. Search engine marketing (both PPC and SEO) needs constant attention by experts to get any sort of decent result. Marketing through search engines isn’t just about producing a creative, buying space, and running the creative for a month or two. It requires designing and developing many creatives (ads and landing pages), dynamic bidding, growing a network of links, and optimizing results based on metrics. Incorporating changes every day. It's a marketing campaign with no end date (except when your PPC budget runs out).
If Google changes their ranking algorithm, page rebuilding ensues.
If a competitor bids double what you’re paying for an effective keyword, new thinking and restructuring is a must.
If you thought search engine marketing caused you grief, social media is will be a monster.
How many social sites are there? Facebook, LinkedIn, Live, MySpace (yes, still there), Orkut, sure. But what about the millions of blogs out there, and microblogs like Twitter? What about new group sites like Gravity that gather people with similar interests? Yelp, where you might be interested in only one listing? YouTube, and the Break Media sites that encourage community feedback and conversation? Yahoo and Google Groups? Specific interest sites like OleOle.com focused on a single, but controversial topic, where multi-media contributions are part of the fun?
How are they different? How many are completely unique? What can be carried across them? What is the new one that just cropped up this week? What device(s) are people using to access them?
Your brand might be discussed on any one of these sites or tools. It might be important to you to get into that discussion, or maybe just monitor it. There are so many different places that people can have a digital conversion, and they are new sites every week, new iPhone apps, new IPTV services.
The first step in getting a grip on social media is to go into learning mode. Learn about the sites you need to understand. Learn how advertising works on those sites, what type of voice you need, how friending or ‘fanning’ works. How people exchange information. Each site is somewhat unique. Learn and read every week. Setup profiles. Make "friends". Know what's going on with each tool. And then keep learning.
Then, once you know how a social media site really works, develop a plan for monitoring, setup KPI's, understand that this list will continue to change, and most likely continue to grow.
Social media’s “unstructured-ness” is why people like it so much. The new sites are the new cool, and the trendsetters are always looking for that “cool” factor they can introduce to their circle of friends. Some sites will catch on, some won’t, but there will always be a new offering out there as entrepreneurs and VC’s look to find the next thing to entice those people looking for the new cool.
Working with social media requires a child’s curiosity to continually explore, learn, challenge, and adapt quickly to the results. Keep reading, keep learning.
PART 2 in a series.
Part 1: Social Media is NOT A Marketing Channel Unto Itself