Social media was supposed to be the exciting one. The new marketing frontier with
no boundaries, no rules, immense opportunity and scary repercussions if you got it
wrong.How times have changed. For brands it’s become the norm. Why are brands
playing safe, playing by the rules and sticking to a one answer fits all solution. Why
are brands not keeping to the core idea of social media?
Ask a handful of marketing directors to give an overview of why they use social
media, and you’ll likely get very similar, tired in my opinion, responses. What’s your
social media strategy? We want to engage with our customers on a daily basis to
entertain, build our brand and create meaningful real time conversations that
ultimately drive wider awareness of our product and service; make existing
customers more loyal; and get them spending more money.
That’s a lot to do in 140 characters.
Brands continue to see social media in a traditional sense, media. Social networks
are seen as media channels: whereby brands first assess the platform based on
how many of their key target audience spend time on that channel, then assessing
how they can use that channel to communicate to the audience. Let’s look at it a
different way… rather than thinking channel first, think user first. Let’s think that the
user owns the channel, for without the user the channel would be nothing. When
we start thinking about things from a users point of view, we should start asking
ourselves questions like: does the user really want to see an advert for a brand that
they’ve never heard of before in their newsfeed? If the user is half way through their
24-month contract, do they really want to see a video about the latest Android
phone? Does the user care that their old classmate likes a drinks brands latest post
about kittens? What are the long-term effects of annoying people, everyday?
It’s clear to see that the last twelve months, in particular, has seen UK customers
attacked with messages that (let’s be honest) they simply don’t want. It’s no
coincidence then that last month Facebook shares hit their highest price since May
2012 and Twitter lifted the curtain onits plans to go public, joining the IPO club.That’s
all well and good, but change is afoot, and it’s been a long time coming.
Mainstream social networks are aging. That’s not just because mainstream social
networks have been pillaged by advertisers but also because what was once a
very fun and personal space is being questioned by many users, especially those in
their younger years, who are asking questions. AP tech writer Barbara Ortutay puts
“…as they wade through endless posts, photos "liked" by people they barely
know and spur-of-the moment friend requests. Has it all become too much of
a chore? Are the important life events of your closest loved ones drowning in
a sea of banana slicer jokes?”
Once personal streams from friends, family, colleagues and those who interested us
has become boring. Users are getting bored. Bored of the mainstream experience.
Bored of being sold to. Bored of the paradigm that is popular social.
So what? So do something different. Break the mould. Be innovative. Innovate with
the platforms you use, the message that you want to say and how you say it. Make
it fun again, BUT, fun with a purpose. Your customers will appreciate it. Your
message will cut through.
Facebook is not the answer to the challenge that your business faces.
Engagement is not a strategy.
A great tone of voice won’t sell your products.
Innovation, originality, differentiation and passion will.
Think about the long term, in line with David Ogilvy’s famous belief that every single
thing should be an investment in the long-term reputation of the brand. It’s not
about the quick wins. Otherwise, your brand becomes another number. One that’s
on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.A brand that is
bombarding customers, not with content that get’s attention, but with content that
is broadcasted into the screens of everyone who just want to use their thumb to
scroll to something meaningful.
It’s not all doom and gloom. It’s an exciting time. A time when there is a real
opportunity to be different when everyone else joins the flock. Let’s not forget why
social media is amazing… it’s the opportunity to get everybody speaking about
your brand through word of mouth. BUT, to do that you need to have a clear
insight, a focused strategy and (most importantly) a killer idea.
Steve Cater, Head of Digital, whynot!