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Brands using Social Media without engagement – Isn't that just traditional advertising?

The social media landscape evolves on almost a daily basis, but two things it seems are certain: Content is the King, and user engagement is its’ Queen. What happens though, when the Queen is ignored? Is it possible for brands using social media without engagement to still succeed?

The short answer is yes, of course it can. A social media presence without engagement isn’t exactly ‘social’; in fact it is the polar opposite - It’s just media. There really is no logical argument to suggest that this strategy can’t generate healthy return on investment. This type of advertising has been employed successfully since the inception of mass marketing, so there is no reason to doubt it simply because a new way of engaging with customers has arisen. The tried and tested methods are exactly that; tried, and tested.

Brands Using Social Media Without Engagement img1It is relatively simple to measure success of a traditional advertising campaign – you simply compare the amount of time and money invested in the campaign, against the increased number of sales. If sales outweigh investment, you’re onto a winner. Social media campaigns are a different beast altogether, there are countless ways to quantify ‘successes’. You can measure success in terms of the increased number of unique visitors to your website, your rank on Google, or the amount of times your article has been shared on Facebook (and countless other ways). The difficult thing with this approach is measuring how those successes have impacted your bottom line.

Social Media vs. Traditional Media

Let’s take a minute to think about the main considerations when planning a media strategy. Content is unquestionably of utmost importance, regardless of your media strategy.  Put simply, if the content of your media is unattractive, irrelevant or disinteresting to the user, you are fighting an uphill battle from the start. That said, if your product or service is sub-standard, then media strategy is the very least of your concerns. Aside from that, traditional media is a known quantity and is the time-proven war horse of promotional campaigns. Generally speaking, brands know what and how they’re selling, and who they’re selling to. In marketing terms, knowledge really is power.

Now let’s briefly go through the process of designing an all-singing, all-dancing social media campaign that encourages engagement and actually adds value to your brand:

  • Build a community that users are happy and proud to be a part of. Brands should maintain an ongoing and active presence in the community. Whether that is through regularly engaging with users on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or any other social media vessel.
  • Ask questions, and actually listen to the responses. Social media is a reflection of real-life, if a brand talks incessantly about what they do without pausing for feedback or input from their users, said users will quickly tire of the dialogue and look elsewhere.
  • Include unique and interesting visual content. Pinterest is now officially the third largest social network, and Facebook have just spent $1bn acquiring Instagram. We humans are inherently visual beings. Therefore, the emphasis must be on creating attractive, engaging photos/artwork/promotions to generate interest and draw people in.
  • Build a gate, not a wall. Social media users don’t want to be greeted by endless sales pitches. This applies to your Facebook brand page, your Twitter feed, your Pinterest wall – even your actual website. Obviously you should give valuable content and key promotions pride of place in your virtual real estate, but you must also be open to user-generated and free content as well. The key here is to encourage your fans to ‘share’ (promote) your brand to users who have not yet been introduced to you. This will never happen if your page is essentially an endless, monotonous sales pitch.
  • Constantly monitor social media for the hot topics, and get involved. It’s far easier to jump on an existing bandwagon, than it is to build one from scratch. Find out what your customers are talking about, and get involved with the conversation. Once you have built up the rapport, you can start talking to them about your brand.

Brands Using Social Media Without Engagement img2Those are just some of the key considerations of a social media strategy; the list could (and would) go much further if you were actively looking to invest your time and money in such an approach. The question of traditional vs. social media came up in Big Dot Media's office simply because a client had asked us to design them a social media campaign without any sort of engagement from their users.

Initially, we scoffed at them and stated that it wasn’t exactly a ‘social’ media campaign. After weighing up the potential benefits compared to the relatively low outlay of time and money, we’re starting to think it might not be such a bad idea. The question is; how would you react to brands using social media without engagement?

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