As buzzwords go, "social media marketing" bugs me. Think about it. Do you want to be marketed to on social media? We connect to people on social media. We want to engage with people. Even when we follow a brand on social media, we understand that it's staffed by one or more (real) people. So, here are three reasons that social media marketing the way it's been done in the past is not so relevant anymore.
High Noise to Signal Ratio
We've reached the tipping point in "social media marketing." The volume of chatter, posting, status updates, shares, likes, plus ones, re-tweets and amplification on social is off the charts. So, how can the average brand market effectively on social media? It's not by merely showing up as a logo with a lot of content. Don't get me wrong, I'm a strong advocate of having a documented content strategy, and leveraging social media channels. But, merely producing and posting a lot of content on social channels can be perceived as noise, if you don't have a bigger strategy that centers around a great customer experience. Without a focus on addressing the customer's real wants, needs and emotions, you run risk of being just another contributor to the noise channel.
This leads to the logical point that people want to engage with people. Your employees are on social media (that's not a news flash I hope). Presumably, your employees believe in your company, its purpose, its values, products, services, etc. So, it's only logical that your employees should be part of your marketing. While asking your employees to "market" on behalf of your brand may not be received well by them, empowering them to be brand advocates, or brand ambassadors, may in fact be very well received, provided you offer it as a benefit to your employees. Those brands that identify the employees who are behind the "logo" on social media, perform better.
The reason is simple. It's the people factor. A logo is not a person. By making the "logo" human through disclosure of the people doing the marketing, the brand improves its chance of making a human connection with people.
The next logical point on this continuum is that social isn't only about marketing. It's well documented in the IBM Charting the Social Universe report, as discussed in my recent podcast with Cynthya Peranandam from IBM, that 74% of businesses believe a social business is one that uses social technology to foster collaboration among customers, employees and partners. As this report so eloquently displays, there are five entry points into an enterprise. These entry points are known as social ambitions. Only one of these entry points is focused on marketing - Understand and Engage Customers. It's important to recognize that these entry points are focused on achieving business goals, and social technology is recognized as means to an end. These five social ambitions are not necessarily sequential events in an enterprise.
The Future of Social Media Marketing
My hope is that the logical flow outlined above - the noise factor, the rise of the employee brand advocate and the fact that social technology is being used for many business purposes helps to paint a clear picture. The "marketing" that a brand performs through social technology is becoming ubiquitous. In other words, it's becoming less about the "media" and more about the "social." It's transitioning from "doing" social to "being" social as an enterprise. And, it's transforming the employee from an invisible worker, to the new face of the brand.
Photo Credit: Scientific American, The Neuroscience of social influence