This past week, Facebook turned 10 years old. While a handful of social networks came before Facebook, and many followed, Facebook was synonymous with social media for quite a while. For some time when people said social media they meant Facebook. Yes, there have always been other active social networks.
Facebook (and other social platforms) have dramatically changed our culture … the way we communicate and engage with others. And ten years later so many brands and companies still stumble using social media to win customers over. Far too many marketers bring an advertorial mentality to social marketing. The reality is that a majority of social users are turned off by brands’ advertorial interruption on social channels.
So as Facebook turns 10, marketers must be aware of the unofficial rules. These unofficial rules are driven by audience behavior first and foremost, and a desire to increase sales and profitability second.
1) Meaningless followers and likes – followers, likes, etc. are meaningless in and of themselves. If your audience doesn’t engage with you, and you with them, the audience never sees your posts anyway.
2) Followers and likes are just the beginning – the initial actions to get followers or likes is only the start. Yes, you could run a sweepstake and give away an iPad to everyone that likes your brand and get 1 million followers. But what good is that if it is the last action a person takes with your brand.
3) Relations are key – brand relationships are key to social success. You want to build an emotional bond with your target audience by showing them you care, delivering useful and/or entertaining information, and responding to mentions of your brand.
4) Avoid advertorial content – social users are turned by advertorial like content in their social feeds. Social media channels are not another acceptable place for content and postings, which are solely product push.
5) Avoid the hard sell – social media is not a good channel for direct sales. Typically, last click conversion does not happen on social media. Social media is an excellent marketing channel to gain attention and influence brand preference.
6) Measure – social marketing must be measured appropriately. Sales are not an appropriate measure of social marketing efforts, but rather the behaviors that tee up sales should be measured. Specifically – awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. (See “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.”)
7) Social starts off your home court – do not build the “field of dreams” social presence and expect everyone to show up there. Go out in existing forums, groups, communities, etc. that you do not own where the conversation already exists. Engage there. Build a reputation as a valuable source. Slowly move people to your social properties once you have established some degree of positive reputation.
8) Don’t confuse Facebook as your community – platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. are NOT your brand community. You do not own the database of information of your audience on these platforms. Consider these platforms as a stepping-stone to attract people and gain affinity for your content hub and/or community you truly own. (See “Why Facebook may not be Your Brand’s Community.”)
9) Social is not a silo … typically social media responsibilities reside in the marketing department. In the words of David Packard (formerly of HP), “Marketing is far too important to be left to the marketing department.” Social leadership may come from the marketing department, but the social practice should be executed by the whole company. Have a plan to unleash company brand ambassadors. Establish policies that govern who speaks on brand social channels and how other employees can positively promote the brand on their personal channels. Motivate the whole company to participate.
10) Integration is key – integration of social marketing with other offline, traditional, direct, advertorial, and online marketing is imperative. Create synergy across all your marketing efforts.
As I hit my seventh year in social marketing I see one problem continuously standing in the way of success. That is most companies (and their leaders) continue to be myopic and internally focused. If there is one thing that social media has culturally changed that marketers must be sensitive to, it is that people who show continuous concern for their audience and “friends” get rewarded. Social user behavior dictates this. Give it some thought.
Make It Happen!