Social Is Only Another Online Marketing Channel

It’s getting to the point where I’m beginning to tire of the focus on social media as the latest must have strategy for an online marketer. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great addition to our toolbox of channels, but let’s be clear as to what it means to marketers. It’s just another channel for communication. It is not the saviour of online marketing, it’s not going to replace email, SEO or PPC and it’s certainly not going to give you immediate and proven ROI on your campaigns.

It’s important for marketers not to lose sight of why they’re doing social. Is it because it’s the latest must have thing that everyone is talking about (including your boss) or is it because certain social platforms are the most effective way of communicating with your audience?

If it’s the former then you need to properly research the suitability of doing social campaigns before diving in, they take a lot of time and effort to maintain well. You also need to look at one platform at a time – no-one can become great at Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Pinterest all at once – they have unique benefits to your business and need a different technique to manage.

Also think about whether your audience are actually going to be receptive to what you want to say. Social isn’t a platform where you can take the same messages that you fire out in an email campaign and just throw them into the social void, hoping for some engagement. Firstly, people take a lot longer to warm to a company on social and secondly it is possible to be seen as a social spammer much quicker on these sites.

My advice to those looking to seriously delve into social is this:

  1. Treat it for what it is – another online channel
    This means it needs viability research
  2. Give it a proper measure of success
    What does a like mean to your business? Make sure you have solid ROI measures in place
  3. Invest in a measurement tool
    Now you have measures you need to track them and report on them, social isn’t free if done properly. Brandwatch and Radian6 are solid tools
  4. Be prepared to lose control
    You cannot control what happens to your brand and content when you put it out on social, that’s the whole point of it
  5. Respond immediately to negative feedback
    You can’t stop negative comments in social sphere but if you respond in a mature and immediate fashion – your brand can benefit from the bad as well as the good