Updated: Nov 24, 2018
For anyone that knows me, this post won't come as a huge surprise or revelation. I can be an opinionated individual and despite beliefs to the contrary, i wouldn't claim or believe to always be right. But this is my honest opinion...
Social Media is not right for every brand, company or retailer.
There i said it. (gasp).
Not that i am particularly old... but I remember when we were told that every company or brand had to have a website in order to survive. That has changed a bit... QR codes were the future? They haven't quite taken off yet. Augmented reality... great for stunts and events but mainstream use is in its infancy. The list goes on... and in my view, includes social media.
I have sat in multiple presentations from external research companies, brands, industry experts, agencies and so on... and for the last few years, almost without exception, each one has told me how social media is the future and i had to find a way for my company / brand to engage.
I disagree... and i will briefly explain why.
They are not set up to do so... One of the most common and powerful uses of social media from a company perspective seems to be related to customer service. However, this involves putting the appropriate time, effort and resource in place to make the social media relevant. When companies do this, it can work brilliantly - e.g. Asos, Naked Wines, T-Mobile USA. More often than not, companies are not set up to do so and are therefore preparing to fail.
It isn't relevant to the business or brand strategy... engaging through social media is simple (on paper) but fundamentally involves one thing - relevance to the user. Engaging content helps too! Most companies utilise social media because they believe they should, not because they actually need to.
It won't deliver additional sales or profit... a retailer i used to work for has thousands of shops and around 14 million transactions every week. When i was managing the digital strategy, at our peak of online traffic, we reached around 150,000 visitors in a month to our website. But we didn't have a transactional website. So in essence, we had a beautiful website which a decent number of people used. But it cost us a lot of money to maintain and providing an ROI was tricky. Ultimately the place to influence customers and drive sales and profit was in and around the stores.
In contrast, the WWE seem to have 'mastered' the use of social media and it is now at the heart of everything the company does from the WWE Network through to utilising hashtags during specific matches and encouraging viewers to enter the debate. Even the 'superstars' have online personas which they utilise to build storylines and engage with fans beyond traditional television and live events. 26m people like WWE on Facebook. Ultimately, its the right audience, its good engaging content and its relevant.
Please don't take me as a hater of social media, i am certainly not. My views on social media are ultimately the same as my views on any other type of Marketing. (Don't get me started on PR!) Everything has its place. Each opportunity will be more relevant to some companies than other. Not everything is right for everyone. So... understand it first. Determine if it fits the strategy for the brand or company. Then build a plan to engage. Don't start at the other end and think i must be on social media, what should i do?
As ShinWa Marketing said recently... social media can be brilliant for engaging with potential and already existing consumers. It can also be used to increase brand awareness. Social media users often spread the word about their good experiences with a brand using social media and this will encourage other users to investigate the business and potentially become a paying customer.
A final thought... consider that the user doesn’t think in terms of channels, or campaigns, or marketing... They think about what’s interesting, relevant and convenient for them – what suits their needs and requirements. So, rather than thinking about everything that could be done, companies should think about what they should be doing to facilitate their and their users objectives. If this involves social media, then great, but resource it properly and have a clear plan. If not, also fine...