Monday, January 10, 2011

Misconceptions of Social Media

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the tools of social media and how they are best utilized in marketing.

It's about creating content- The adoption of social media tools has caused a lot of marketers to abandon what once worked very well, when they thought all they were doing was advertising. Curiously, popular opinion has decided that if it's going to be social, then it must be for entertainment purposes. I can see how one could easily believe this when videos of crazy cats accumulate 46 million views. Entertaining content is just that. It does little for brands to differentiate themselves and it's neither useful, relevant or persuasive. And trying to be entertaining when when you're not an entertainer can ugly. Even with "free" social tools, the goal of marketing should still be communicating the real differences between your product or service and the competition.

Done right, results come fast- When a homeless man in Ohio can captivate the world in a matter of hours, it's safe to say that word travels the through the internet fast. Unfortunately, this buzz dries up as fast as its created. Achieving sustained results from a social media effort is a slower yet more reliable process. Where word of mouth is "tell-a-friend to tell-a-friend," social media is "tell all your friends at once," so it's easy to assume that social media results are accelerated and amplified. The pitfall of this logic is that our social networks are homogeneous, all comprised of similarly like minded friends who we share a strong bond with. Consider your knowledge of those in your own social networks. Do you consider them all to be credible sources of information for all your purchase decisions? Not me.

The recommendation of a trusted Facebook friend can certainly open the door to the mind; but the brand must be credible on its own. Gaining this credibility is not something that happens in the time it takes to click a computer mouse. It's an ongoing process.

It helps brand transparency- Transparency is definitely a part of the social media equation- for the consumer. Marketers now have the keys to a brand new treasure chest of personal information about consumers. A little transparency on their end is a happy trade off.

Even still, I question that this happening. For the brands who began using social media out of fear, I question whether their purpose is to progress a conversation or to filter it. Surely, brands that simply chime in and add an amendment conversations taking place about them are hardly improving transparency, even if it's in the spirit of correcting misinformation.

There must be constant contact- It's important to remember that just because consumers give a brand permission to their newsfeeds, it doesn't mean they should camp there. This is particularly important if your brand has nothing meaningful to say. It's important that your brand understand the difference between helping fans and followers be being better informed as opposed to making them more informed.

Measurements of Social Media- Too many assume that measuring social media is like everything else; the ultimate judgment will be a number or combination of numbers. Just remember that cat video. Simply looking at the total views, number of clicks, the times your message was forwarded or retweeted doesn't determine the real impact of the message. Remember the cat video. The real measurement will be conversations taking place. After all, a brand is nothing more than what a consumer thinks it is. Marketing is about shaping that perception.

What do you think? What to you agree with or disagree with? Perspective you want to add is always welcome in the comments section below.

No comments: