Social media marketing is ultimately just a tool, the same as anything else. It’s a powerful one, yes – but a tool nonetheless. It IS possible to fail to generate the results you’re after if you’re using that tool in the wrong way, even if it is the right one for the right job at the right time.
Case in point: one recent survey asked business leaders about the impact that social media has on their business, their brand and their marketing campaigns in general. Just 15% of respondents said that they had been able to prove said impact quantitatively.
41.5% of respondents said that they had not yet been able to show the impact at all, while 43.5% said that they “had a good sense” of the impact but hadn’t actually been able to prove it yet.
This despite the fact that there are 2.56 billion social media users worldwide right now, equaling about a 34% global penetration.
Now, what do you think separates those businesses that fell into the first category from the ones in the latter two?
It’s easy – they understand that social media marketing is about more than just a pithy tweet. They get the idea that followers are only as valuable as they are engaged. If a follower simply subscribes to your Facebook page but takes no other action at any point in your relationship, do they really exist in the first place?
Social Media is Everything and Anything
A lot of this misconception comes from the way popular celebrities and other social influencers use sites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis. Brands see a celebrity with millions upon millions of followers tweet out a joke or other bon mot to thunderous applause and think that this is what they should be doing, too. But really, this fails to see the forest for the trees.
Because social media has the potential to be anything and everything, provided that you understand these possibilities in the first place.
Yes, a particularly fierce and hyper-relevant joke is probably going to get you a lot of retweets. But is it going to lead to action on behalf of your users? Probably not.
Consider the fact that according to HubSpot, visual content is about 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than ANY other type of content. This essentially means that the graph you made with a tool like Visme (which I founded) is going to perform better than any hilarious witticism that you can come up with.
Why is that? Because there’s a world of difference between how most brands are using social media and how their users would prefer that it be used.
Social Media Marketing is a Service
Brands need to stop looking at social media as “something that we have to do” and start seeing it for what it is: another service that they’re offering to their customers.
To best illustrate this, consider some of the following statistics from one recent report:
- About one out of every three social media users say they prefer social media customer care services to either traditional telephone or email avenues.
- Roughly 67% of consumers say that they actively use social media to seek resolution for problems they’re having.
- Almost 70% of consumers said that they’ve used social media to help solve problems or get answers to important questions at least once.
Which of those three concepts describes that pithy tweet you spent all morning writing? The answer is, obviously, “none of the above.”
Consumers do NOT see social media as an extracurricular activity on behalf of the brands that they’re making purchases from. Your Twitter profile isn’t “a digital extension of your brand.” It IS your brand and from now on, it likely always will be. It’s up to you to respond in kind.
Now, nobody is saying that you shouldn’t occasionally fire off that witticism or other carefully crafted “throwaway” remark via your social media profiles. Far from it – this is actually a great way to show personality and connect with your users on a base level.
But the overarching role of social media within your organization needs to be much, much broader than that. If people go to your Facebook page for conflict resolution and see it filled with nothing but one-liners, they’re probably not going to continue. Stats also show that because their preferred method for solving challenges is now essentially cut off, they’re likely not going to try something else, either.
Or think about it another way. The next time you publish videos online with Uscreen and retweet those links, is anybody going to care if your social media efforts are seen as an afterthought? Probably not.
People who have positive interactions with brands on social media aren’t just more likely to recommend that brand to others – they themselves are also likely to spend more money on purchases, too.
But 96% of people who discuss brands online do not actually follow those brands on social media according to Brandwatch. Why is that? Because most of those brands think the fact that they have a Facebook profile alone is enough to get the job done.
It’s not. It never was. The key to giving yourself a solid competitive advantage in today’s crowded digital world involves doubling down on those meaningful interactions that made social media so popular in the first place.
Social Media IS Your Business
Because of this, you need to make your social media channels as reflective of your brand as possible. Your pages should be filled with presentations and other collateral that people will find helpful. You need to be responding to customer issues as quickly as possible – most people expect you to do so within the hour.
But if you want your users to take your social media efforts seriously, you need to start taking them seriously, too. It really isn’t much more complicated than that.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience, and web app development.