Social Media & Social Networking aren’t shortcuts to any kind of success, business or otherwise. They’re a commitment and an investment. To market a service based on such a premise isn’t just misleading, it’s also attempting to build business success on the strength of ever diminishing returns…
Invariably, most forward-thinking marketeers are looking to Social Media & Social Networking as routes to their target audience. Such things are new, often demographically self-defining offering rich, sometimes instant rewards.
To some, the perception must be that such activities are cheap, compared to printed collateral, advertising and PR. That’s the perception, at least.
But what such activities make up for in cost savings in terms of entering into and creating a presence via Social Media & Social Networking services, they lose out on in the long-term, since to enjoy any real success, we must invest time.
And what do we know about time? It costs money.
Socializing business marketing
The right of any business is to pursue any marketing channel that’s likely to win them work. And who can blame any business for exploring Social Media & Social Networking activities? After all, it’s just another part of the marketing mix.
However, things aren’t quite as simple as they look, since Social Media really isn’t a business-friendly activity right now:
“Who really benefits from Social Media? The top 1% of businesses on Earth; like Apple, Jaguar, IBM, Nike, British Petroleum, Gap, Sky, Ford…”
So what about the other 99% of businesses out there? Those who don’t have live-action video clips featuring famous singers, actors and sport stars, or Podcasts, or tons of new content pouring into their websites every day, or well-trafficked ‘blogs, over-flowing with comments.
My business has quite a broad base of clients from a variety of industries, including print, property, manufacturing, production, distribution and healthcare, among others.
In all honesty, I cannot think of one single client that would in any way benefit from a Social Media marketing campaign.
But as was highlighted by Social Media Mom, that doesn’t stop Entrecard from pitching “Black Hat” marketing strategies to businesses, which prompted a comment from me:
“I really don’t like this kind of thing. I’m of the belief that the people who’re promoting your stuff are either friends or people who’re genuinely interested in your stuff.
This is the kind of thing that businesses who don’t get social media or social networking would use.
Sure, they’ll get some traffic out of this stuff, but the problem is, they’re not engaging with their readership.
I know some of people promoting and commenting on my stuff. So I can engage on a very personal, fine-grained level.
Could these guys say the same? I doubt…”
Social Media gets personal
As marketing evolves, those that attempt to strike up a conversational dialogue with their target market as well as their current crop of customers are the ones that will succeed.
And that conversation needs to come from within rather than without.
Sure, you can write up scripts for your marketing agency to work from, but the “always-on” instant nature of Social Media & Social Networking means you as a business owner need to be responsive, to meet the needs of those you’re servicing.
Can an external marketing agency do that? Of course, but your relationship with them must be an intimate one.
If you want to avoid always being one step away from the conversation, you must actively participate in the dialogue that you’ve started.
So an argument could be made for drawing the client into the conversation, but knowing what I do about businesses, their attitude will be the same one that they adopt when it comes to a telesales campaign — “I’m paying you to find me some qualified leads. I don’t want to talk to anyone before that point.”
Or words to that effect. So there are barriers to overcome there, too.
A question of business knowledge
But there’s an opportunity being missed, here. If you have a lead, then keep it warm and address the needs of the prospect.
So maybe it’s a question of education? I think it is. And I think it’s going to be a gradual process of change, punctuated with sudden jolts of success along the way.
This is going to be an on-going theme that will be a weakness of Social Media as a marketing activity for those other 99% of the businesses out there selling green widgets and red doodads, unless those businesses are prepared to learn and engage.
A weakness right up until the future of Social Networks is just so damned niche and businesses know all the new tricks, selling green widgets and red doodads will become a tricky business indeed…