What is the true purpose of social media marketing?
In our frenzy to ‘get our brand out,’ ‘reach the top of search results pages,’ ‘drive traffic,’ and ‘increase conversion’ it’s easy to lose site of what we should be focused on.
Let’s take a step back in time. Before the internet what did most people consider to be the most important ingredient in determining who to do business with?
I believe it was having a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. We relied on word of mouth and referrals to grow our businesses and bring new customers in the door. Business owners and marketing managers attended trade shows and local events to meet new people and to strengthen existing relationships – it was called networking.
Then along came the internet and a crazy phase of anonymity and decision making based on price, delivery times, and whether or not the company offered free shipping. Customers chased prices and companies lost site of the fact that they were still doing business with real people and not with impressions, page visits, and shopping cart abandoners.
Businesses enjoyed a good ten years of “ignorance is bliss,” and a misconception that their internet brand was separate from their catalog or brick and mortar channel. People continued to talk about brands they way they always had: over coffee, at the water cooler, and on the phone.
Then in 2003 came WordPress, which in my opinion, is one of the core reasons the web became social. With the inception of WordPress people began blogging or in other words writing and publishing online journals or web logs. For the first time in history, the opinion of an ordinary human could be seen by thousands or even millions of people with the click of a button.
Not only could an opinion be published, with the introduction of social media networks like Facebook and Twitter all of the sudden it could be shared at the speed of light and literally with the world.
There have been many examples of this, the most recent being “Some Subway sandwiches not measuring up.” It started with an Australian who posted a picture of a subway sandwich and eleven inches of a yellow tape measure to Facebook. As happens on the world wide web, one thing led to another and before Subway knew it, the story was published in the New York Post and on who knows how many blogs, tweets, posts, and pins have been sharing the story.
The news is still spreading. From “The case of the missing inch,” published by Fox News to CNN iReport’s “Subway – Does Size Matter,” and countless more news and personal blogs have published content about the story that has now been tweeted, posted, and pinned all over the world.
So what’s the moral of the story? Every business needs to be aware of and participating in social media
Let’s look at the chain of events:
- Australian teenager posts picture of the inch-too-short sandwich on Facebook.
- US publication NY Post publishes an article about the Facebook post and the sandwich.
- One of the people in my Google Circles (who I’ve never met) posted the article and the question, “Can your business survive what social media will do to your business?” The question led to a discussion with others in his circle.
- The discussion prompted me to write a blog post using the scenario as an example to demonstrate the power of the social network.
If you look at just a few posts about whether or not the inch-too-short sandwich is an anomaly or the norm, you’ll see that complete strangers all around the world are talking with each other and voicing their opinion about the Subway brand.
Fortunately for Subway, they have a presence in social media and have a great opportunity to turn what could be bad press into a gold mine.
What if they were one of the many businesses out there that is still afraid to have a blog or to be engaged on a social media platform? They would have been caught completely off guard or worse yet, oblivious to the fact that they were being talked about.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you don’t have a blog or a social media network presence that people aren’t talking about your brand. They are, you just don’t have visibility to what they’re saying about you.
There is so much more to social media marketing than meets the eye. It’s not about driving traffic, promoting your brand or spying on the competition. Sure, it does include components of brand management and self promotion and if you’re doing it right, it will result in more visitors and happy customers.
It’s really about relationships, it’s good old fashioned networking in a modern day world.
Are you focused on relationships or self promotion?
Is your social media marketing strategy coming up short?
Share your favorite social media success or nightmare.