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7 Reasons You Should Ignore the Social Media Wave
With nearly five years of interactive marketing experience, I am no stranger to marketers' resistance to new and emerging media - an often justifiable response for cautious marketers looking to ensure that their budgets aren't consumed by a fad with little return on investment (virtual worlds anyone?). And frankly, I understand and agree that marketing tactics should never precede strategy. Social media marketing is no different. But there is a fine line between ignoring and abstaining from social media.
Full-disclosure - the following points, while tongue-in-cheek, are reasons marketers may choose not to pay attention to social media. Do I believe they are all valid? Nope. But as they say, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right."
So without further ado, seven reasons you should ignore social media:
1. You don't understand social media. Makes sense, you can't be expected to excel at something you don't fully understand.
But then again, considering the rise of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and consumer review sites, I find it hard to believe you have zero knowledge of social media. If you spend any time online, you likely engage in some form of social media on a personal, if not professional, level. After all, you are reading a blog right now - leave a comment to this post and you'll completely be a social media pro.
The good news - not understanding social media is common but easy to overcome. Reading blogs, articles and books on social media are good ways to begin to supplement your current marketing knowledge. In addition, educational videos (such as those at 60secondmarketer.com - shameless plug), webinars, conferences and local panel discussions can be huge eye-openers. Not to mention, you could always engage your forward-thinking marketing agency to present the basics of social media and how your brand fits in.
2. Social media is not your job/responsibility. Hmm... let me ponder this one. You mean to say that you do not participate in any decision-making that affects how consumers interact with your company before, during or after a purchase? If this is the case, I can only imagine you continue to read this post because you either have an interest in, one day, being a part of those decisions OR you're an avid fan from my former boy band days (in which case "Shhhbop-Bop Hey!").
In all seriousness, social media can span many departments - marketing, public relations, customer service, sales and more - and can also be a delicate balance of corporate versus regional/local responsibility. So what's the solution? Everyone with a vested interest within an organization should be willing to submit communal ideas on how social media could be used to improve consumer relations and/or the organization as a whole. Whether this is just listening to the social chatter (more on this in a bit) or planning an entire campaign/initiative that fully integrates social media into you marketing strategy, you can likely use social media to support your role and/or objectives.
3. You don't have the time. Understandable, the marketer working 50-hours a week may find even an investment of 2 hours a week a huge undertaking. Why start something you can't finish, right?
But now you may be asking, "What could I seriously do with 2 hours a week?" To which I'd reply, you should be (at bare minimum) monitoring the social space with simple daily Google Alerts and weekly Facebook searches on your brand terms and those of your competition. At least by knowing what's out there, you can make a more informed judgment call whether a larger investment of time and budget is warranted.
4. You don't have the budget. This can be a deal breaker if you're hoping to do a huge creative execution around establishing and/or maintaining a social media presence. Social media might be cheap, but it certainly isn't free... I mean what is, really?
But if I was challenging you to transcend your budget limitations, I would still advise you to monitor the social-space and competitive landscape for opportunities to connect with consumers and influencers, especially those that may already be publically discussing your product/service or their need for a similar product/service. And if you could afford it, maybe this is an opportunity to use enthusiastic yet responsible junior employees to engage these consumers in a positive dialogue when appropriate. And if you have this going for you, maybe there are opportunities to append current marketing materials with messages around joining these social media dialogs, such as the standard "Follow Us on Twitter" and "Find Us on Facebook."
5. You don't have the right audience. Ah yes, we are apt to forget not every marketer's audience even uses the internet... So sure, if you're selling plungers to the Amish, maybe you're not going to engage your audience in a social media setting.
But if you monitor the social space, you may find that your brand has either a group of passionate supporters or a group of consumers looking to discuss your product/service in which case, you may actually have a fighting chance in social media. Whether you're responding to questions and comments about your brand on various sites, or establishing a space where your brand advocates can feel a part of a social community, there is a wide array of ways to get involved. And please don't give me any malarkey (pardon my French) about your target market skewing older. Over 60% of users on Facebook are reportedly 35 or older. And according to Pew Research Center, "Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled-from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010."
Given social media's adoption rate, I would caution you to keep "checking in" on your audience to know if they are participating in social media. Would your target consumer share information related to your product with their social network? Would your target consumer look to either their social network or a social consumer review site when deciding whether or not to buy from you? Would your target want to ask your company questions (think ask the experts) and read answers to other consumers' questions? Is your competition successful in social media?
Plus, if you really want to know if your audience is on social network sites, there are companies that can give you this information based on your email list. Companies such as Rapleaf and Flowtown are able to cross-reference a list of email addresses against publically available information on social network sites.
6. You only use media that can be tracked. Like you, I'm not a fan of jumping into any marketing initiative without measurable goals. But given the relative newness of the social space, you may also be under the impression that social media isn't measurable. Luckily, there are several lists detailing how to measure a social media campaign. Check out this great blog article from BKV's Jamie Turner and the 60 Second Marketer. By understanding these metrics, perhaps you can free yourself to consider social media tactics to achieve objectives in your marketing strategy.
7. You're not seeing the results. Wow! Talk about an excuse I can get behind. You've monitored the social space for brand and industry conversations. You've determined if your audience is using social media to help make decisions around your business or similar businesses. You've compared your overarching marketing strategy with relevant social opportunities. When appropriate, you've engaged customers and social influencers with helpful content. You've planned, executed, tracked and analyzed one or more social media campaigns. And after all that, you're not seeing enough results (qualitative, quantitative or ROI) to continue testing social media?
If this is the case, my only advice is continue to keep a finger on the pulse of social media and watch for new opportunities, as the space is constantly evolving and becoming more mainstream.
So there you have it... seven reasons for ignoring social media.
But is social media is appropriate for every marketer and every brand? Absolutely not! In fact, social media is often overhyped and many times inappropriately utilized without strategic reasoning. But every marketer and every brand should be cognizant of social media and continue to listen, watch and learn -waiting for the right opportunity to use social media to improve their marketing efforts.
So do you have a better reason to ignore social media? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!