Operating in the Social Media sphere in both a professional and a personal capacity, I’m coming across an increasingly prevalent number of ‘instant gurus’. Twitter, and LinkedIn especially, seem to provide a natural home for these evangelists, all of whom purport to able to advise on Social Media marketing strategy, just because they’ve got to grips with Twitter and LinkedIn.
Well, reader beware.
At its core, Social Media is a communications channel and, naturally, different people use it to communicate in different ways. Digital marketing is also a communications practice – but this does not mean that a ‘Social Media guru’ can advise you on productive marketing strategies for use in Social Media channels.
There’s no denying the fact that digital marketing and Social Media are becoming ever-more interrelated – they are, after all, natural bedfellows and operate within the same space. But marketing is marketing – and no matter how many tweets you’ve sent, blog posts you’ve written, or LinkedIn groups joined, using Social Media personally doth not a marketer make.
I’m constantly shocked by the ill-informed and generic advice being banded around the Social Media sphere. Whilst I’m nowhere near arrogant enough to claim that I’m a definitive authority on the topic, my professional use of Social Media has evolved as part of an integrated digital strategy – and it’s the digital marketing discipline that informs the Social Media strategy – not the other way round.
If you’re looking for Social Media marketing tips, some fundamental truths should serve you well. If the advice does not have these values at its core, the chances are, you’ve come across a fly-by-night ‘guru’. Here are my basic pointers for using Social Media as part of digital marketing strategies:
i) Social Media is not a standalone strategy. It’s a stunning, dynamic, exciting channel, but needs to support a wider business dynamic. You should only use Social Media for marketing purposes if it is part of a wider, integrated digital marketing strategy.
ii) Social Media is a communications tool. New rules apply folks. If you’re spreading your brand around in various channels and using different sites to promote one-way messages, you’re destined to fail. Social Media plays by new rules – you are not in charge of a two-way conversation – you just need to engage.
iii) You cannot control Social Media marketing. End of. A transparent strategy still divides opinion, but even negative conversations can be turned into positive outcomes. If someone wants to say something bad about your brand, chances are, they’ll do it. Be part of the conversation and ensure that you resolve these issues with your customers.
These are three very basic pieces of advice – but I hope they will help individuals looking for specific SM marketing advice to understand the difference between genuine Social Media marketing strategy and community cowboys who’ve never worked in marketing before.