I was meeting with a prospective client today who is in a “laggard” industry in regard to social media adoption, but wants to try and “lead the pack” and venture into the use of social media – good for them! This isn’t a story about that – much bigger topic for a future post. Nope, what was interesting is just how hard it is for people to truly understand how social media should be used if they want it to help grow their business.
As we talked about how social media could help them reach new audiences, improve new product launches, shorten the sales cycle, increase the awareness of their brand, etc., it became increasingly apparent there was a bigger job at hand. Convincing them that social media is NOT just another BROADCAST medium to shout out to all their customers and prospective customers about how great they are. That seems to be the natural instinct of most companies embarking on the social media path.
Why, you might be asking yourself. The answer is actually much simpler than the solution. The answer is, “because this is the world we have all grown up in and lived in for our entire lifetime.” All we know is how to “push” things (advertisements and product functions and features) at our audience through any means available – and usually at a pretty high cost. So it is certainly natural and understandable why people think that social media is just another “channel” to make this happen.
But I just want to give you one (of many) recommendations before you undertake this type of activity. Remember, NO ONE SHARES ADVERTISEMENTS!! Unless of course you create the one in a million super entertaining ones, like the recent Old Spice commercials – but these are shared because of their entertainment value, not their product value. And social media is most effective when people “share” the content with their networks, followers, friends, and connections.
If you want to grow your audience base in social media, you need to focus on offering helpful, relevant, insightful, compelling, and other types of stories, not your ads. The audience will share this content but won’t share ads. So make a choice, keep pushing out your ads if you want to but don’t blame social media if no one is sharing it on their networks. Helping = Sharing, whereas, Pimping your ads = Delete.