Buzzkill: Social Media

Social media is supposed to be this promised land of opportunity. You’ve read the research, ogled at companies with millions of followers, and said, “Dang, I want that, too.”

Of course, it’s tough to gain traction in the world of social media — let alone see measurable results. But since there’s a perception that you can’t live without it, your boss asks you to bash your head against any virtual wall to get people to like your Facebook posts.

But here’s the deal. While social media can be powerful, it isn’t the end-all for all businesses. In fact, I’d argue that most marketers value it way too highly — or at least aren’t thinking about why they need it or what it accomplishes.

Here are four rules to clear up what social media can truly promise for your business.

Social isn’t for ad copy: Most marketers look at social media as another advertising channel like TV or digital display. It’s not. Social is different because it belongs to the user. Unlike tuning into TNT, when I log into my Facebook page, it’s my Facebook page. Twitter is my voice on the internet.

So when I see companies cluttering my feed with paid ads or begging me to use their silly hashtag, I’m annoyed and I almost always ignore them. Don’t you?

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Social is for being useful: Look at the last thing you posted on your social media channel. Does it add value to someone’s life? The companies with great social channels are consistently useful to their audience. Here are a few examples:

Entertainment: Posts that make us laugh, cry, or awwwww. L.L Bean has amassed 4.3 million followers on Pinterest by posting pictures of cute animals. Do you think they would have attracted that kind of interest by photographing backpacks?

Promotions: I don’t need to hear how great your product is. But crazy discounts? Now I’m interested. With 1.4 million followers, the Dell Outlet Twitter understands that people value hearing about good deals. Contests and giveaways are also great.

Social is a commitment: As a rule of thumb, a good social media platform posts new content almost every day and interacts with its audience multiple times a day. People want fresh material literally all the time, and they’ll abandon or ignore sources that don’t keep up. Getting engagement out of a social platform means committing to growing and to keeping it alive. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Social isn’t for everyone: Say you’re a B2B enterprise software company. You sell solutions for thousands and thousands of dollars. Can anything on a Facebook page really convince someone to buy your product? Is it worth your time to chase likes and followers for something that’s only relevant to a handful of people?

I’m not saying social media is a bad thing or a waste of time. But you need to take a step back and reassess how it’s being used. Think about what you actually engage with. Then think about what your business actually needs. You might find more in common than you expect, or you might find that your business needs a different way — or a different “promised land” entirely.

Written by Joe lee, Content Marketing Specialist.

Video by Levi Bethune, Director of Marketing Operations.