Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Social Media Marketing - What Everyone Is Still Doing Wrong

It's 2015, and some people still haven't figured out how social media relates to business. As a marketing guru with a PhD in common sense, I have grown tired of explaining this individually to thousands of you... so as a service to you and myself, here it is, explained once and for all.

How do you know if you need to read this article?

Consider these unfortunately popular myths:
"Social Media is an effective tool for marketers."
"Search Engine Optimization is something I need to do to my website."
"Paying for advertising on Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, or God forbid Facebook can be effective."
"Paying people to manage Social Media campaigns is a legitimate endeavour that may yield results and/or is now necessary."
"Marketing is about spreading my message to the world, and I can use social media to do that."

If you believe any of those things to be true, read on, read fast, and repeat as required until the truth sets in.

Social Media Marketing for 2015

1. Surprisingly, most people still haven't grasped this:
Social Media is not a tool for marketers. It is a tool for consumers.

Social media is popular and effective for only one thing:
Feeding one's ego by posting information that relates to oneself, at no cost.

People don't use social media to share information about your company, they use it to broadcast information about themselves, which sometimes includes nods to products or services that they perceive as extensions of themselves.

So if you're spending marketing dollars on social media, you've missed the point. If you're posting blatantly commercial information, you've missed the point even more. And what's worse, everything you do that goes against the strengths of social media only serves to weaken it by diluting it. (i.e. the more you fill Twitter with your crap, they less useful and popular Twitter becomes.)

The whole point of social media is that you don't NEED to do marketing anymore. You heard me. At least not marketing in the 'broadcasting' sense -- by all means, still do marketing in the 'listening' sense, such as research and trying to determine what sort of product your customers want. But as for spreading your message, that is now done for you. For free.

All you need to do is focus on creating a great product, one that resonates with something people actually want. Gone are the days of paying to tell people they want what you have, these are the days of people telling each other that you have what they want. A subtle but very significant difference.

At their core, people just want to talk about themselves. Give them a product that they relate to, and then social media becomes a thousand voices spreading your message for free.

2. SEO (search engine optimization) is not a set of rules to apply to your website to make it relevant -- it is the ever-evolving set of guidelines used to determine if your site is relevant. Again, a subtle but significant difference... but if you still don't grasp it, you are doomed to spin your wheels chasing an elusive wild goose for eternity.

The simplest way I can explain it is this: worrying about SEO is like treating the symptoms of a disease instead of dealing with the root of the problem. Imagine your website has leprosy, and limbs started falling off. Would you keep running around picking up fallen limbs and trying to reattach them? They're just going to keep falling off every time there is a Google Search Algorithm update. Obviously, you would instead opt to cure the leprosy -- in this case, by creating unique and relevant website content. Then you can let Google worry about how to push it up the ranks; after all, that is THEIR business, it is their best interest to do it, and I can guarantee that they can do a better job of it than you.

And if you don't know what "unique and relevant content" looks like, then take a step back and start with this: "Why do you think you need a website?"

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The bottom line: marketing in 2015 is more than ever about 'listening' instead of 'talking'. Listen to what the people want, give it to them, and then THEY will use social media to spread the message for you and beat a path to your door. For free.

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