Social Media Marketing: Don’t Spoil the Atmosphere

“Social media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it. No one actually knows how. When finally done, there is surprise it’s not better,” this how social media efforts sees Avinash Kaushik (2012), leading expert in web analytics. I read Avinash blog regularly, as he is one of the enthusiast who, like me, believes that online business and marketing efforts should not be just task on a list that manager checks when he invests adequate portion of budget in online world. I vigorously support and spread this idea whenever I have a chance. Last opportunity was during recent Marketing Live 2012 conference in Bratislava where our company presented on the topic of successful and effective marketing campaigns on social networks. Three weeks of brainstorming, evaluating, and comparing have led me to some interesting reflections.

Few years ago words like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram had not risen a lot interest. Today brands and business are preempting one another who has more Likes on Facebook or whose posts are retweeted in the highest volumes on Twitter. Likes (which are individuals’ expression of support and popularity of brand or product on Facebook) have become central point to many marketing managers. Usually pointless applications are spreading over Facebook like viruses, allowing users to find the date of death, to reveal name of one’s future spouse, or to find out accident that will kill them. Sure, these are the most extreme examples, but they illustrate current state of social networks decently. Though, bizarre things that exist on social networks would cover another article.

I regularly meet many Slovak managers or marketers that seek magic formulas for attracting masses and make them Facebook fans. The most striking revelations for me are mostly the same. When I ask these people what they expect, they just tell me number. The number of new fans they want to bring to their Facebook brand page. It seems to me like everyone forgets that the main purpose of any marketing efforts should be measurable, and obviously positive, business results. How volume of your fans reflects on your business strategy and sales figures? What do you want to achieve by these efforts? How they contribute to your business? How they help your customers or society? These are questions every manager should ask before he even thinks of social networks.

My peers often ask me why there is so huge difference between campaigns in Slovakia and United States (as I worked for clients in both countries). Now, I have bunch of answers ready: measurable outcomes, budgets, communication, innovation. As already implied, clear your mind first about what you want to do, and more importantly, why you do it. Does success mean: A) thousands of “Likes” from people who do not even know they Liked you two weeks ago (probably as a results of one-time contest with iPad as a main prize; no matter that your business sells organic food) or B) is it rather five hundred people who read your posts every day, comment and share them with their friends? If you answer “A” please go google for the first company that sells (probably fake) Facebook fans for few dollars, so you can sleep well and present your fantastic results to top management who has no idea what Facebook is. If you reach for B, please roll up your sleeves, because you are starting long journey of building relationship with your customers and devotees. Believe me that this journey will bring it’s fruits and they will taste much better.

The problem with many Slovak companies is money, too. While American companies already understand that these channels have been gaining ultra power day by day, Slovak companies still treat them as a side job – „Is there some marketing budget left? Well, OK, let’s do some Facebook baby!“ But honestly… five hundred bucks won’t make it to the Top 10.

Last two points – communication and innovation – are tightly interconnected. You have to listen to your fans and listen to your creative company. If you haven’t hired one yet, do it as soon as possible if you are serious with social networks. These guys know what they are doing. Let them do their job and bring innovative ides into real world. There is nothing worse than get people who like you bored. There is no other place like social networks where you can lose customers with one click.

Reading this post won`t make you a social media expert. Yet, I hope it kicks you to think about social networks marketing genuinely, or at least it kicks you to kick marketing manager at your company. Social networks are where your real customers exist, and where you can draw them into an intimate dialogue. Don’t spoil the atmosphere.

Author: Eva Homolova /SEO & PPC Specialist v ESET/

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