The technology that enables social media platforms to run is at the cutting edge of website design and development. The power of social media, though, is in the humanity of its users and the creativity of those users to connect and interact.
Not more than ten years ago, it was very expensive to distribute photo and video content. Newspaper and magazine ad space was dwarfed in cost only by television airtime. The other glaring problem with these types of media was a lack of interaction between the brand and the consumer. Messaging was more a monologue than a dialogue.
The advent of MySpace and Friendster eventually led to the more refined Facebook and Twitter. 2012 brought Google+, Instagram and a number of other networks that are built around the premise of sharing information and digitally interacting with others. Amidst the droves of businesses racing to this new frontier of marketing, something was lost — the initial premise that acted as catalyst to the idea of social media in the first place: Human Engagement.
Social Media, at its best, is about telling stories, connecting with others and ultimately empowering its users. The two best variables for gauging a successful social media platform are the original creative content it produces/shares and the level of engagement that content creates.
A few vignettes to consider:
- SOPA brought attention to the fragility of an online community. The ability to share information and create content is not an inalienable one; it’s one we must fight to preserve.
- Going beyond the simple feat of “having” a Facebook page to advertise your brand ultimately yields the greatest amount of value from social media as a marketing device. Focus on engaging and interacting with your base, not only advertising your product/service. Audi has done a tremendous job of developing games and interactive portals into their Facebook experience. This, according to AdWeek, has given Audi a more engaged fan base than Justin Bieber.
- The North American International Auto Show is one of the largest of its kind. Press from all over the world cover the event for their particular markets. The New York Acura Association made the decision to aggressively cover the event for their customers in New York.
Tactics to take away:
- Remember that the size of your business matters little when it comes to value that can be derived from a properly developed social media strategy.
- Creative content refers to original blog posts, photos and videos. Use whatever resources available to produce this content and commit to a schedule whereby distribution is regular and consistent.
- Apply SEO best practices to your social media content (keywords, meta description, meta tags, anchor text optimization, etc.) Google’s recent algorithm changes have brought “Social” closer to “Search” than ever before; keeping SEO tactics within your social media strategy will yield much value in visibility and engagement.
- Remember that “users,” “followers” and “likes” are in fact PEOPLE; treat them as such. Social media is not the place for cold, corporate messaging. Allow your brand’s personality to shine, loosen-up a little, and have some fun.
- Most importantly, social media is about human interaction. Do not let the technology involved scare you or fool you into thinking it will market your brand on its own. Social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram, is a delivery mechanism… and a spectacular one, at that. YOU are the driver of that machine; make sure it reflects the personality of the brand and conducts itself with the utmost transparency.
The following graphic by BrianSolis and Jess3 show how Social Media “points a brand in a physical direction to genuinely and effectively connect with customers, peers, and influencers…” We highly recommend the work of Brian Solis and Jess3 for further discussion on social media, digital marketing, and the like.