You Do Social Media, but You Don’t Think Social


Every day I come across marketing agencies, PR firms, and freelancers who offer social media marketing as a service.

Many of them didn’t start out doing anything with social media. Most of the time they began with print or other forms of digital marketing (SEO, web content, blogging etc.)

But recognizing its importance and value to customers, they have now added social media marketing to their arsenal. In some cases (and this is actually more surprising to me), it’s a new agency which claims to be focused almost solely on social media.

But too often, I’m seeing that while these companies may talk a big game, they don’t seem to really understand what social media is all about. Judging based on their social posts, most of them have not done their homework and have not given the medium sufficient preparation or the respect it deserves.

I can tell that a marketing company doesn’t really ‘get it’ when almost every post is either self-promotional or a promotion for a client. What this tells me is the agency is still thinking in terms of traditional media marketing (e.g. TV, print, and radio). They may have made the shift to social, but they have not yet shifted their mindset to one that understands social media.

Social media marketing – and really all of digital marketing – is about providing value. You don’t have a captive audience the way you do in traditional media. There’s a lot of noise you have to compete with for attention. Therefore, you have to earn that attention.

How do you earn it? You earn it by acting like a human being and more like a media company and less like a marketer. You hit your target audience with content that entertains, inspires, or helps. This keeps people coming back for more and primes them to eventually buy what it is you’re selling when you do eventually go in for the ask.

What really makes me laugh (and cringe) is when a company will post a meme or a video explaining how social media is about providing value rather than talking about oneself, and then almost all of the other posts are self-promotional! And people pay them thousands of dollars in monthly retainers?

It annoys me, because I know if I had the resources, I could show ’em how it’s done, but on the other hand I’m happy, because it will make it easier for me to win once I have my own team. 🙂 working-in-starbucks-east-hampton

Here’s what you have to remember. Nobody goes online to see ads. Nobody wants to be sold to.

If they know you, like you, and feel like they’ve received a lot of value from you, they will not necessarily buy from you, but they will be much more likely to want to give you something in return, which could mean a transaction.

However, if you just go in for the ask without first providing value, you’re like the obnoxious guy at the party who does nothing but talk about himself. It’s like asking to marry someone on the first date. You’re like the dude who tries to go all the way before even saying hello.

Now, I get it. Some people genuinely want to try new economy strategies, but their bosses force them into utilizing dinosaur tactics. You feel pressure to show a tangible ROI to your boss or to your clients.

But if you want to win on social, you need to start acting socially. It’s not social to be talking about yourself all day. That’s lame. No one wants to hang out with people like that. You need to behave like an individual and actually contribute to the conversation. In that respect, social media marketing is very counter-intuitive for marketers and brands, but it’s very natural (and fun) when you allow yourself to respect the medium on its own terms.

Social media marketing does not provide as much instant gratification as do other forms of marketing. It takes much longer to start getting results, but if you’re patient and you spend time listening to your audience, take the time to learn about and respect the individual social platforms, and you create good content consistently, you will win in the long-run.

Your hard work and patience will pay off and leave your competition in the dust. But if you try using short-cuts and don’t invest the time and energy that is needed to build and strengthen consumer relationships, you will never get off the ground.

So, don’t just say you do social media. Start thinking and acting like it.




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I'm a writer and digital marketer. Communicating your brand's message and helping you to connect with the right audience is my specialty. If you are interested in: branding, marketing, copywriting, social media, search engine marketing, inspiration, success, and enjoying life, then my blog is the right place for you.

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