#fail: Most marketers and their use of social media

It still amazes me how many marketers just don’t understand social media. Many only see the word ‘media’ without taking any notice of the word before it – ‘social’.

After all, marketers should feel like they know about media. They have a long relationship with it. Or as one of my uni lecturers once put it, ‘Most media exists solely for the purpose of delivering an audience to marketers’.

But, ‘social’ media? No, it’s a different beast altogether.

The dictionary defines ‘social’ as:

1. pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.

2. seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.

3. of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society: a social event.

So in general terms, social media is about people mixing, being friendly, having fun. If you’re a brand and you’re not doing this, well, you have no business being there.

It’s painfully obvious if you’re just trying to sell something and turn a quick dollar. And while other mediums might have grown up in an era where the interruption model of advertising reigned, social media didn’t.

This means people won’t accept being interrupted by commercial messages the way they have been in the past (actually, with the advent of things like TiVo and Time Shifting, you could argue that interruptive advertising’s best days are long gone).

Sure, other people may have a conversation about your brand using social media, but when you do it yourself, it just doesn’t work. And here’s the reason why: when you’re trying to apply some kind of sales message in social media, more often than not, you end up sounding like that ‘mate’ you only ever hear from when he wants a hand moving heavy furniture. He never rings you just to share a joke, or to catch up over a beer. In fact, the only time you ever hear from him is when he wants something.

Is that the kind of relationship you want your brand to have with its customers?


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