Saturday, February 22, 2014

social media in a marketing plan: avoid hype, focus on content

 So here we are: it's 2014, the digital waves continue to crash in and pull out. Features are added, content is pushed, and constant connectivity is all of a sudden assumed. Smart phones externalize our brain, and search terms replace human memory. For some business folks, implementing a social media strategy and "going digital" can generally lead to a struggle to merely remain afloat and avoid being dragged away in the undertow.

From a "personal portfolio" standpoint, services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest have all managed to seamlessly suture themselves into real life as official representations of an individual, but the business world is still a few steps behind. Let's face it, as business leaders and entrepreneurs, we rush to jump on these social media platforms for one reason: to make more money. But while many companies have a "strategy" in place at the start, many don't have content, and without content how will you connect with your customers, and make more money? I feel it imperative to outline a simple suggestion of what not to do; don't pay for a social media strategy, pay for content creation. 

Fourgrounds is a content creation company, and while it may seem "convenient" we are pushing content as the answer because we create it, the exact opposite is true: we create content because it is the answer. Media producers did not create the void, they are trying to fill it. We have been doing so long before the advent of social media. With that being said, let's explain social media marketing a bit more. SMM works to establish a brand identity or subtext to a brand. It also helps to notify your established followers or audience of business activities. Every single byte of data that is pushed out is intended to make a statement about the identity pushing it. A tweet doesn't just say what we ate for lunch, it says who we are, what we like, where we go, what we believe in… The same consciousness should be applied to a business' online profile. Businesses tend to see these outlets as secondary channels, and a "business opportunity", which can be true, but only if used correctly. Too often we see companies who pay a marketing firm, agency, or consultant to establish their "social media strategy", which generally entails setting up a few profiles and a mandate to "use said profiles to gain followers and maximize exposure." This is the easy part; every company seems to "need" a social media profile, but unfortunately many are not being used properly to create a ROI. That's the hard part. So how do you really maximize your online channels? There is no clear answer, but if social media is a must for your company and you are serious about using it, I suggest you take the time to educate yourself on how it works and why. First, make a personal profile and interact with friends and colleagues. Once you and your staff learn the value is not the portal or the audience, but rather the content you put out and what it says about you and your company, then and only then, are you ready to spend money on social media. Pay an agency, staff member, or media producer to buy ads, produce videos, take photos, create campaigns, run contests and do all the things we love about social media marketing. Creating this engaging content, combined with all other activity on your channel will truly tell the world who you are, what your business values, and lead to a positive return in brand awareness and ultimately profitability. And that is what you wanted to do in the first place isn't it?

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