While it’s a great thing that more and more businesses are jumping aboard the social media bandwagon, many still aren’t really grasping the point of doing so.
There’s a very finite distinction between social media marketing, and merely (doing traditional) marketing via social networks.
Social media marketing involves defining a strategy specific to social channels and tailoring distinct content to those platforms. Simply using social media to market “traditional” messages, on the other hand, is when a business solely distributes information, whether is be exclusively promoting their own offerings, having miscellaneous news automatically fed through to their Twitter stream or strictly asking for followers.
In other words, there’s no conversation, no RTs, etc. I look through my new Twitter followers on a regular basis and it’s baffling how many of them, easily more than half, are doing social media without so much as attempting to be social.
Managing Twitter and Facebook accounts can be time consuming, so scheduling content is definitely justifiable, but shouldn’t make up 100% of your Twitter stream. It’s better to not be on these channels at all than be on there while not taking advantage of the opportunities these specific channels provide. Frankly, it draws attention to the fact that you don’t know how to properly utilize this particular space, and that you haven’t taken the time to learn it, or find someone qualified to do it for you.
Plus, typically, it comes across as spammy to use social devices to only push your product. There are appropriate spaces to do that and press releases and the like are still extremely valuable in terms of overall marketing initiatives. It just comes down to acknowledging the distinction between social and non-social marketing.
Think of traditional PR and communications as a one-way street — businesses would produce a press release, an ad in a newspaper, on the radio, wherever, and their consumers would then read it. Absorb it. But they couldn’t talk back. Now, however, they can.
Social media, in contrast to traditional, is a two-way street — businesses can still use Twitter and Facebook to distribute all the same information they did previously, but the consumer now has the ability to talk back. The model now allows the consumer to talk back to their advertiser. And while this can be intimidating at first, it provides a lot of new functionality for businesses to connect with their audience in new ways, and on a human level.
With that in mind, businesses shouldn’t be utilizing the new two-way system as a one-way one. You shouldn’t be side-stepping the value of that human touch. It shouldn’t be strictly automated, uninviting information being passed along. If you’re not listening, responding to and engaging with your followers, you’re missing the point, and ultimately, a larger opportunity.