Archive for SMM

The Bleak Reality Of Social Media Marketing

There once was a time when social media was the solution to all of advertising’s woes. Social media was to replace antiquated interruptive advertising techniques by allowing customers to have “relationships” with brands. Brands could “join the conversation” and let customers “tell their story” too. All of this “engagement” would be called “earned media’ instead of paid media. But reality has struck, we’ve all been duped (including me) and it looks like what really matters is what has always mattered: interrupting people with interesting ideas about interesting products.

From Forrester “Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers. Forty-eight percent of consumers reported that social media posts are a great way to discover new products, brands, trends, or retailers, but less than 1% of transactions could be traced back to trackable social links.”

Sure, the same arguments are still valid: social media (and display ads) has an impact the same way TV ads have an impact – people just don’t click through as much so the influence doesn’t show up in the data. Another valid argument is that most brands still just aren’t using social media right: they post self serving drivel that no one cares about.

But consider this quote directly from Facebook: After instigating the biggest bait and switch in ad history, Facebook has the audacity to say in Time Magazine, “Like many mediums, if businesses want to make sure that people see their content, the best strategy is, and always has been, paid advertising.” Facebook itself concedes that trying to market a product by engaging a community with posts is ineffective.

Create your own site, for creating quality, interesting, unbiased content where you have full control instead.

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It’s Either Social Media Or Nothing

The barriers to entry to publishing a book, or distributing music or any other creative endeavor used to be so high that artists had to spend much of their time trying to get in front of those decision makers.  Now the internet has placed all the tools of distribution and marketing into the hands of the entrepreneur. But there is a catch.

Not only are the tools of marketing and distribution in your hands, they are now your only option. It’s not a matter of choosing between a third party label or publisher or DIY, going DIY is now the only way to go.

There are plenty of writers, musicians and entrepreneurs that would rather just do the work of creating their art and not maintain a Facebook and Twitter account, post images to their Instagram, encourage engagement on their website or create a fan club. After all, these people are artists, not social media mavens. But alas, this is the new game that needs to be played. But at the end of the day, I prefer this new normal over the old for a few reasons.

1. People buy the experience not the product. This is now more true than ever. Your art is no longer a simple transaction about money, people want to buy a story. You have a better chance at successfully selling your story than any third party does.

2. If you didn’t have to spend all your time doing social media then you would have to spend all your time doing the demeaning work of trying to be picked anyway – casting calls, headshots, following leads, trying to get in with the tastemakers who could care less about you.

3. When you accept doing the marketing and distribution on your own terms you unlock your ability to make an impact, removing all the excuses between your current place and the art you want to make. You choose to be judged not by the tastemaker who picks you, but by the audience that you will find instead.

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Not All Impressions Are Created Equal

The bigger the reach the smaller the individual impact. The higher the frequency the more is wasted. The more people the message is designed for the more generic and uninteresting the message needs to be (the compromises necessary to make something appeal to everyone mean that it will almost certainly not appeal perfectly to anyone).

A message hyper-targeted and relevant, designed for a specific individual gets noticed and acted on every time. Those who receive such direct attention become loyal ambassadors. But you can only make a handful of such interactions at a time.

I think there is a sweet spot between reach/frequency and effort/impact. Too much marketing done today is still too far over on the reach frequency side than it should be with all the social media tools at our disposal.

Frequency reach vs Impact Effort

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Social Media Marketing comes down to 2 things

I finished reading the book World Wide Rave by David Meerman Scott. I thought it was OK. I’ll explain the problem with these kinds of books at the end.

While I was reading it I came to the conclusion that success at social media marketing and having your business idea spread virally comes down to two main factors: creativity and understanding the tools that the internet provides. You may have a good understanding of how to use all the internet tools: blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Squidoo, ebooks, monitoring your brand using Tweet Scan, Google Alerts, Boardtracker, Social Mention, trying to build competitions, interactive tools, applications, widgets; but if you don’t have something creative that’s worth spreading it won’t spread. The creative content part is harder than the tools part.

One way to start getting creative is to put your message in terms of the need that your business solves. Scott says:

By truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, egocentric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization.

Once you’ve gotten down to the needs that your product fulfills, then you can start trying to come up with creative ideas around communicating your solution to that need. After that there is not much advice one can give on how to be creative. I guess you could try brainstorming ideas. Another good idea in the book is to try lots of things in hopes that at least one of them sticks.

Many attempts will be duds that won’t spark any interest; a few will generate some notice and basically pay back your investment of the time required to make them; and a handful will spread to thousands or even millions of people and make the entire program of 10 or 20 initiatives worthwhile.

Realistically I think you’re more likely to make a hit if you try 50 to 100 initiatives.

So there’s the problem with most of these internet marketing books; they can’t explain to you how to creatively use the tools that the internet provides to spread your message. They can only show you the successful ideas other people have had. That’s the hardest part and only you can figure it out.

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SMM Helps Businesses When No One Cares

In it’s most basic terms, marketing is the act of trying to get people to care about your business. Get them to care enough and they just might buy. The problem is finding enough people to care when no one cares. Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody:

Having a handful of people highly motivated and a mass of barely motivated ones used to be a recipe for frustration. The people who were on fire wondered why the general population didn’t care more, and the general population wondered why these obsessed people didn’t just shut up.

This is because:

The number of people who are willing to start something is smaller, much smaller, than the number of people who are willing to contribute once someone else starts something. Many people care a little about causes and events, but not many care enough to do anything about it on their own,  both because that kind of effort is hard and because individual actions have so little effect on big corporations.

But that’s now OK because:

Social media lowers the hurdles to doing something in the first place, so that people who cared a little could participate a little, while being effective in aggregate.

This is important in marketing your business on the internet because:

Now the highly motivated people can create a context more easily in which the barely motivated people can be effective without having to become activities themselves.

Get those less than loyal customers to engage with you, even if it is a little bit. Social media marketing allows your little brand to have a chance. Every extra person is another drop in the bucket that helps your idea to spread.

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SMM is About Creating a Cause to Die For

I finished reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky and dug what he had to say about groups being able to form through social networks because of the new tools made available from the Internet.

3 stories:

#1 The bank HSBC recruited students by promising checking accounts that carried no penalty for overdrafts. Then, HSBC decided to revoke the policy, giving the students only a few weeks notice about the change. But they didn’t expect students to create and join a group on Facebook called “Stop the Great HSBC Rip-Off!” Shortly afterwords HSBC caved in and reversed the policy.

#2 Flight 1348 was grounded in Dallas due to bad weather and sat on the ground for eight hours before passengers were let off. On passenger on that flight formed a group to represent the rights of passengers called The Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights. She started this group by commenting on an article on the web which attracted more of the passengers and together they made an online petition with 2,000 names. The bill ended up at the Senate.

#3 A girl in New York looses her Sidekick cell phone in a cab and discovers that her phone ended up with a girl in Queens. She found this out by seeing photos taken by the thief with her old phone that were transferred to her new one. She asked for the phone back but the girl in Queens refused. So they created a website with pictures and a description of the events. Soon, thanks to sites like Digg, they were getting ten emails a minuet from people offering encouragement and help. After dozens of complaints to the NYPD, the cops were sent out, the thief arrested, and the phone returned.

What do these stories have in common?:

These groups were successful because of a cause that all the participants believed in. The saying goes: people will work for money but they will die for a cause. For your social media marketing to be successful you have to make it a cause people will die for.

Creating a Facebook page that consists of your business name will not attract anyone, let alone inspire them to recruit others. instead of “yourbusinessesnamehere Facebook Fan Page”, try a cause in your business industry: (if you’re a restaurant) “The Coalition to Stop Bad BBQ!”, or (if you’re a salon) “1 Million People Against Faux Hawks!”.  You get the idea…

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