Why You Have Social Media All Wrong

[excerpt from my upcoming Ebook: The Truth About Digital Marketing (a working title)]

Just about everyone I’ve ever talked to about digital A&M always throws in the importance of social media. Business owners, industry professionals, and laypersons seem to believe that social media is the solution to all of their digital marketing needs. I kindly submit; everything you know about social media is wrong. Before you click away…consider the notion that social media is not an all-encompassing concept, rather it is a multi-tiered channel of communication.

Additionally, social media is not a high producing digital channel. It does not produce a significant supply of website traffic nor does it produce high conversion rates. I have been in digital marketing and advertising for over a decade now…and was working in the industry when social started to rear its head in 2006-2007. The reality is, social media, as a general channel, converts well below 1% while other channels like paid, direct, referral, and email are much higher [Average between these channels is around 2.5%]. Moreover, social signals and their importance/impact on your SEO and website are very nominal. And play little role in your overall success if a ‘share’ action isn’t taken.

With some of these number in mind, it is paramount to your business goals to take a deep breath and let us all put social media in the right place. Communication, branding, listening posts, marketing, and publication. Most certainly NOT conversion and a primary traffic source.

I break down the concept of social media into five primary segments. Social media communication. Social media listening. Social media A&M. Branding and brand reputation. And social media publication.  Each portion should be treated as a collective and individually. In doing so, less work will lead to better experiences for both your business, social communities, and would-be visitors.

Social media communication is simply that. How you communicate with your audience on the various platforms. The individuals who have opted to join your group, cause, or business want to hear from you. They want to engage with your brand. They are not on social media to buy anything or to be sold your newest trinket. They want insights, information, and unique content that they cannot get anywhere else. Provide these things to your audience and you will gain more authority within your group and have a much better opportunity to spread your message far and wide. Continue to be self-promotional and you will eventually find your hard earned audience turning their collective backs. In short; unique, high-quality, relevant content will help you engage and communicate.

Social media listening give you, the brand/company, the opportunity to listen to your audience. Much of business and corporate communication is one way. We are speaking and messaging our clients and customers but we are not actively listening to their ideas, thoughts, complaints, and compliments. Therefore, active listening and contemplative responding is key to a successful social media endeavor.

 Social media A&M is the active practice of advertising and marketing within various social platforms. Yes, it is paid inclusion. Yes, it can be very intrusive. And yes, 4 out of every Facebook ads are ignored. And yes, MySpace went out of fashion due to too many ads and poor content. Marketing and advertising on these platforms are best for brand awareness but not so much for conversions. The good news is they are very cost effective for a CPV [cost per visitor] standpoint.

Branding and brand management is critical in the age of big data and in light of public demand for corporate transparency. Leverage social media networks to take over your brand name and mitigate future negative comments, features, and commentary. Without question there is a social component here and one you and your company should not ignore.

Social media publication is one of the most important aspects of all social media efforts. What you publish and what social media outlets you publish on matter. If your business target is B2B your best publication option is on your site [of course] and on LinkedIn. If your target is B2C in nature, Facebook may be your best shot. Of course, mixing it up and sending out high quality content is the name of the SEO game more than the nature of social media. However, the two work hand in hand depending on how good the content is. Truly unique and excellent articles can have a very far reaching impact [consider ‘going viral’] and can produce excellent website referral traffic.

I encourage you, dear reader, to reconsider how you are approaching social media. It is a challenging endeavor and careful consideration should be given to how much time, effort, money, and ideation is need prior to diving in. More importantly, understanding the different areas of social media can help you make smarter decisions and work more efficiently. At the end of it all, digital marketing and social media is not about working harder…but smarter.

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