Taking a break this morning from the interwebs, I cracked open my copy of Content Rules by Ann Handley & CC Chapman and started at the Introduction, where I was greeted, in the first paragraph, with probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in a “social media” type book (and I’ve read some really, really stupid things):
Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms are giving organizations like yours an enormous opportunity to engage directly with your customers or would-be customers. That’s a lucky thing, because instead of creating awareness about your company solely the old-school way (by annoying people with advertising, bugging them with direct mail, or interrupting them with a phone call during dinner), you now have an unprecedented and enormous opportunity.
Calling “old-school” marketing tactics “annoying” in exchange for sparkly-new “social media” techniques is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
If your offer, your product, or your content sucks, it will be “annoying” whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or a blog. And, to reverse the statement, just because something comes to a consumer via “old school” channels does not by default mean it’s annoying.
There’s a dangerous trend in the teaching of social media optimization to value the connections one can make via social media above and beyond traditional marketing tactics. As if something is “good” because it’s presented via a blog, Twitter or other social media channel but it’s “bad” if presented otherwise, like in a broadcast email.
These teachers often have incomes that are dependent on selling the concept of social media marketing to business, via their consulting, keynotes, or their books. So they place social media marketing as the end-all-be-all answer to all problems and the end-all-be-all marketing solution. Social media is the end-all-be-all of nothing.
Social media marketing is one of many tools. A well rounded marketing campaign could consist of, yes, social media, but also search engine optimization, pay per click, app development, split testing, email marketing, direct mail, jv partnerships, viral campaigns, television, print or radio advertising, podcasting, article marketing, contests / giveaways, et al.
A marketing campaign should never consist of just ONE element, even if it’s so magical an element it’s made of unicorn bones and social media fairy dust.
They go on to write (we’re still on page 1, by the way):
Produce great stuff [content], and your customers will come to you. Produce really great stuff, and your customers will share and disseminate your message for you.
I already wrote about the concept of using social media so you don’t have to toot your own horn in May 2009 (“Content Rules” was published in December 2010) in The 3 Pillars of Social Media Marketing. But that’s the end, not the beginning, of the social media funnel.
To say that “If you build it (and it’s good) they will come,” is dangerous and misleading (again). You can have the best damn Facebook fan page in your niche, with the absolute most amazing content in the world. But until it’s got fans, you’re SOL (or FUBAR’ed – it’s “Pick Your Acronym Day” around here!).
So how do you get fans to that Page? Well, perhaps you put a “Fan Page” box on your website encouraging your site visitors to “Like” your Page. Great! …Oops, no, because that’s “advertising” and advertising is “annoying” according to Handley and Chapman. Oh! Oh! I got it! I’ll start a Twitter account and tweet my Facebook Page to my Twitter followers! No, that’s not gonna do the trick either – because you’ve got to get followers to your Twitter account first…
Having a Facebook page with really great content and waiting for people to show up is a lot like having a lemonade stand with the best darn lemonade in town. Except that instead of putting your lemonade stand out at the end of your driveway, you put it in your garage. And close the door. And wonder why no one is buying your lemonade. “But my lemonade (content) is really good,” you’ll say, “And if I were to put a sign out (old-school marketing) it would be annoying to passers-by.”
See how self-defeating that method is?
Most of you who are reading this post are doing so because you either subscribed to my email list and I emailed you telling you this post existed or you are subscribed to my blog’s RSS feed. Some of you came in via a search engine and some of you came in via social media channels. See how that works? I let people know my content existed through various channels, and now ya’ll are here. Hi!
Social media should be used to funnel your prospects to your other marketing channels. But I already wrote about that too in the Social Media Myth.
If people aren’t responding to your offer outside of social media, it’s unlikely they will now that it’s on a blog, Twitter or Facebook feed.
Don’t get me wrong and think I’m damning social media, or the “Content Rules” book – I’m only on page 1 (which was deceptive, but they’ve got another 270 pages to redeem themselves by being sensible instead of sensationalizing). Social media is great – I wouldn’t have witten about it to the extent that I have if it weren’t. But it should never be your only strategy or the sole answer to your marketing problems. Truth is, if your marketing strategies aren’t producing any results, you should be looking at why that is instead of adding social media to your campaign.