Back in the 1950s, when television emerged as the primary medium to influence public opinion, a revolutionary new way for marketers to reach their audiences was born.
With only about three channels to choose from, if you could land a commercial spot to advertise your product, your brand was practically guaranteed success. It was a game-changer for many businesses back then and remains so in 2017 - albeit to a lesser degree, with thousands of channels now flooding the market.
Social media presents a similar, if not greater, opportunity for brands today. The problem is that almost no one utilizes the medium properly. In fact, if you were to do a Google search for “social media firms,” seeking out help to use social platforms to your advantage, you’d find over 75 million options. That’s great, right? Just pick one of the many options available to you and hit the ground running. But the “solution” 99.9% of those social media firms will give you is a detailed content strategy informing you how to “keep-up” all the social platforms. Those plans might sound fun or exciting, but they rarely result in more dollars in your bank account. Not only is that counter-intuitive, it’s quite frankly a waste of money. The end-goal for every business is to make money, so utilizing social media should help, not hinder, that process.
The question, then, becomes this: How do you begin to shift the focus of your approach to social media? To start, you need to recognize what a powerful marketing tool it truly is. As of the fourth quarter of 2016, there are 1.86 billion active Facebook users, 600 million active Instagram users, 319 million active Twitter users, and 150 million Pinterest users. Let those numbers sink in for a moment. We’re talking about almost 3 billion active social media users around the globe today. Somewhere within those numbers are new consumers of your products. But how do you turn those social users into customers?
The first, and most important, thing you need to do is recognize social media for what it really is - it’s essentially television. As you begin to build your social strategy utilizing that television analogy, your first objective should be to determine one thing: Is your business inherently social - engaging your customers with content on a regular basis, like a TV channel (such as ESPN) or news source (Huffington Post) - or is your business more transactional, needing to leverage the channel with advertisements (such as a car commercial on ESPN)?
Most companies tend to approach social media like they’re creating their own channel, and for some companies that may actually be the right approach. But many brands simply need to leverage the channel, rather than create their own. If you’re one of those brands, it’s no wonder that frustration begins to set in when one social media firm after another advises you to post content daily, expecting that alone to drive sales for your business. They’re trying to turn you into the channel, rather than teaching you how to leverage the channel. They tell you to create an account, then fill it with regular content. They encourage you to grow your fan base (and pay for it) and post content that gets seen by only a few of your fans each time (and pay for that too). But the content these social sites like isn’t business content at all - it’s fun, engaging, social content. Can you really write unique, engaging material about your business every day, of every month, of every year? If you’re ESPN, sure. But for most brands that aren’t their own channel, that’s an unattainable and pointless goal.
What these firms are asking you to do is a common misconception and one that most people really don’t understand. But we do.
To explain, we’ll borrow a quote from Davide Grasso, CMO for Nike:
“Facebook is the equivalent for us to what TV was for marketers back in the 1960s. It’s an integral part of what we do now.”
Nike gets it. They understand what social media is, and how to leverage it to their advantage. They recognize their brand isn’t in the content business, so they don’t waste their marketing resources trying to create their own TV channel for the sake of profit. Instead, they advertise their products on a channel that’s already been created for them. That’s the heart of social media for business. What Davide was speaking of, then, is leveraging the backend advertising tools of each platform. While others handle posting the Taylor Swift memes that people spend countless hours looking at, your business can be right there too with an advertisement from time to time. But here’s the sneaky part that no one talks about - not only is this the right way for most businesses to utilize the social platform, the advertising capabilities and pricing of social make it the best way to advertise today … period.
So the obvious question, then, is: Why would we, as a social media company, not update our own social? Isn't that counter-intuitive? The answer is a resounding, "No!" Our TVs are turned to the social media channel, but our job is to leverage that channel with advertisements to help our customers maximize their ROI.
It comes down to this: With almost 3 billion active social media users across the globe, today’s top brands recognize social media as an unparalleled opportunity to grow their business, because somewhere within those numbers are potential consumers of their product which can be reached for pennies compared to most channels. The only question remaining is this: Do you need to become the channel, or leverage it?
Monkedia is a social media agency focused on creating real ROI for you and your brand through advanced social media advertising and management.