One of the most common phrases in marketing today is, “What is your social media strategy?” Most marketers are concerned about how to leverage social media and what parts should they be utilizing. The problem is many are asking the wrong question. Social media is not a strategy. It is a collection of digital platforms that is inherently neither good nor bad. Effective or ineffective.
So, if that is the wrong question, what should the right question be? To me it is, “How do I make my brand more social?” When it comes down to it, social media is another venue to carry our brand message. By nature, it is not a sales tool. Who wants to be “sold” at a social event? Hardly no one. That’s what many marketers are doing when they view social media as a marketing strategy. The real goal is to find ways to make your brand more sociable. How can you offer value without trying to sell me on something? It’s not much different than an individual at a cocktail party. Everyone avoids the person who is always handing out their business cards and trying to get clients. On the other hand, many gravitate around people who are interesting, funny, and are as concerned about learning who you are as you are about them. Later on, that person has a much greater chance to approach you, in the right setting, to offer their services to you and your willingness to be open to listen and see if you could do business together. That’s real social media.
It still comes down to basics, getting your brand messaging and overall communication strategy right is what brings success, not jumping into social media without a well orchestrated integrated marketing plan. Actually having a great product/service and offer still is equally important. On thing social media does do is to speed up bad news. If your promotion or offer sucks or you don’t deliver what your brand promises, social media will become your worst nightmare. Consumers can take this tool from you and beat you with it, so brands must take special care on how they integrate this into their marketing. It’s a two-way street.
For example, Ashton Kutcher has been recognized as a social media king. His twitter account collects hundreds of new followers every week. Some believe it is solely because of Ashton’s use of twitter is what has raised his profile even more. What many don’t realize is he also puts into practice an integrated marketing approach for Brand Kutcher. While tweeting, he is also making appearances on Leno, is featured on the the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine, and making live appearances at CBS upfront events at Carnegie Hall. His combination of social media, traditional media and street promotion is what keeps Ashton on top of the buzz world.
Remember, social media is only a channel. It’s an increasingly important one, but it’s not a strategy unto itself. Make your brand social, by not trying to sell on social channels, but to engage in interesting conversation. And finally, be like Ashton Kutcher, and integrate your marketing.