We’ve got to come up with a better name for social media. When people hear that phrase, most immediately think of the “what I had for breakfast, aren’t my kids great, isn’t my life fabulous” world of Facebook. And that is overwhelmingly what social media should mean to many people. And that can make talking about social media to C-level executives a challenge. It doesn’t change the fact that social media can be – and is – a great business tool, both for B2B and B2C organizations. It just means that we have to do a better job of explaining to skeptical clients how social media can work for them.
It’s not, “Look at me.”
It’s, “Check out this information that’s valuable to you.”
In the end it is about me in some sense: as a marketer I want you to notice me, but I stand a much better chance of building a strong relationship with you if you’re noticing me because I’m providing you with useful or insightful information.
So am I talking about social media now? It kind of sounds like I’m talking about content marketing. Really, I’m talking about both because one isn’t really effective without the other.
For social media to work, you have to have something to say beyond, “Look at me.” And for content marketing to work, you have to make use of as many channels as you can to reach your target audience.
This doesn’t mean your CEO has to tweet if he or she has no idea what Twitter is. But your organization has to have a presence, if not on Twitter, then in whatever channel your audience gathers. Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook … all have their audiences, some more homogenous than others.
More importantly, you have to build a hub around which your publishing efforts will orbit. There’s no guarantee on the shelf life of these social networks. (See AOL, MySpace, Friendster, etc.) Relying on one as the foundation of your digital marketing is the definition of insanity.
You should also think beyond the big social networks. Here are a few examples.
Google’s dominance is being eroded – ever so slightly – by more specialized search tools that are as much social network as they are search engine. Yelp helps you find a coffee place within walking distance of wherever you happen to be – with user reviews to help guide your choice. Amazon helps you find a new case for your mobile phone – with user reviews to help guide your choice.
Those are important channels for B2C businesses. For B2B, the answers aren’t quite as obvious, but social media is still a big part of the solution because people are looking for information, not options. Think Quora and LinkedIn, both of which have social components to them that allow for great intel gathering.
Ultimately, you have to view social media as part of your marketing mix, even if creating the next great viral video isn’t a logical step for your business and your brand. There’s much more to “being social” online than just the small handful of big social networks. Be sure you’re using all of these tools to your benefit. Because whether you are or you’re not, your competitors certainly will be.