October 22, 2010

Why You Should Use Social Media, and How to Do It

One thing most corporates seem to miss about social media is the social part of it. Social media is a network which allows you to keep in contact with people. Think of yourself as a broadcaster and your followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook as recipients of your message. But instead of one way traffic, traffic can no finally flow in both directions. This is the mistake made by most commercial brands in that they know they need a presence on Twitter and Facebook but they don’t know why. For some people in Marketing, its just a cheap medium to broadcast company rhetoric. They don’t see the other side to social media marketing which is being able to listen to their demographic. Any marketer who still doesn’t get that and claims to know how to use social media needs to start clearing their desk now. Because more damage is done to a brand by their poor online activity than if they did nothing at all.

I am one of those people who shops online, I obtain my information online. I work virtually paperless. My communication is mostly electronic. I spend a fair number of hours online. Now ask yourself as the Marketing Manager, Brand Custodian, if your online presence is poor, what message are you sending to me? Advertising and Marketing my overlap between online and offline but the promotion of a brand should be able to work as a stand alone catering for a demographic who use online as a means for obtaining information.
This is the point of being online. You’re not selling or buying or giving taste tests. You are providing and consuming information. How often do you provide information and is anyone consuming your information? How many platforms are your present on? Who manages these platforms on your brands behalf?
I have been looking at some campaigns online and from what I see is that many campains are being driven by the brand. In other words its one sided. To an extent there need to be some drive from the brand. But the energy and impetus needs to come from the interaction of your followers and fans. It needs to grow organically if it is to become sustainable. Here is what happens when it is one sided, it runs out of steam from your side because it sucks up resources. Social media is about the collective and from a marketing perspective that means engaging your audience. You need the energy of your market to grow your brand. If you can’t do that then you are wasting your time online. Go to a Facebook Fan Page and look at the activity on the page. Comments, likes and wall activity. Chelsea FC have an excellent Facebook presence. They maintain regular updates, links from the official website.
Getting back to Twitter, the micro-blogging website, Corporates or suits, use it as means for short broadcast messages about promotions or brand activity. But how often should they be updating? When do they give up? @TopTV’s last update was 28 days ago and I am surprised that it has gone unnoticed for so long. Is no one concerned with their marketing?
Some things you should be check out before you open an online account:
Do you need it? Who will update it? One person should be allowed to do this. Too many cooks and all of that. Start off small: Facebook, Twitter and website.
Social media should be social. Listen to what people are saying. Use your platforms for more than just posting links. Follow @Native (the 800 pound Social Media Gorilla) and @RBJacobs (FNB’s Twitter guy who solves problems).
Consistency. Update regularly. Your objective is to keep the brand front of mind. If you’re promoting a particular event, you want folks to associate that type of event with your brand. Think Standard Bank and jazz.
Don’t take it too seriously. Its life. No one gets out alive. Authenticity can’t be manufactured. Yes I know what I said but I needed to. Because there is this belief that Corporates can maintain their formal, stuffed shirt approach and still be seen as authentic in the social media arena. People are not idiots. Don’t treat them as such. Its about give and take and its about coming across as a person. In short you’re personalising the brand. Giving it that human touch.
If your company is running a social media campaign, ask yourself how much of it is driven by your brand and how much of it is driven by your demographic? This is my approach to social media: Organised Chaos. Start something and let it run on its own. Too often the suits try to control and define social media. If your brand stinks, no amount of positive spin put out on Twitter will help. Social media is only a useful tool if the suits are prepared to use it effectively to build their brands and not just because everyone else is doing it.
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