It’s a while since I wrote solely about social media. Which is odd given it’s what the majority of what I do for a living is all about. However, times are changing and the industry is changing so much I thought it was about time I did a whole post on the state on the social media universe. So here goes.
JANUARY BRINGS FRESH…………. HEADLINES!
It feels like the whole of January, well actually it started last year, has been one story after another that’s made it to mainstream news about something or other in the social world. We’ve had everything recently from vloggers shilling shoddy Christmas merchandise at extortionate prices whilst others film dead bodies in forests for kids to view on YouTube. A hotel having a very public spat with an ‘influencer’ that transcended into huge amounts of abuse on both sides. Neither side coming out of it looking very well at all. The exposing of photoshopped images and dodgy health advice. All along with the usual non-disclosure of #ad #spon.
Then Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg made a big long statement about something to do with seeing more of the crap your family you don’t like but it’s not appropriate to unfriend them, post. And that he no longer thinks anyone should see what publishers or businesses post. You don’t get to have a say in that, he made the decision for you. And then last week the New York Times published an epic study on how Twitter is full of bots and lots of public figures, influencers and generally people who should know better, aren’t that popular at all and they’ve been buying their followers all along. Hardly groundbreaking since I wrote about faking your online presence two years ago! But it was hard-hitting enough to make it circulate the globe and raise many a manicured eyebrow. Whether they were raised in fear or not remains to be seen.
AND IT’S ONLY THE START OF FEBRUARY!
There’s no denying that January felt like one really long month for everyone. Twice as long if you work in social media. Whether you’re at the creative end of the business in the blogging or vlogging arenas. Or the hard face of data and funnels. There’s no getting away from the massive shifts within this once niche industry.
I started out in the blogging world 11 years ago now which also saw me take my first steps on to social media. Right at the beginning. It was all very novel and pretty much nobody I knew had a clue what I was doing. Tell someone now that you’re a blogger and they either tell you to get a real job, roll their eyes at you and mutter something about another one of those types. Or they are genuinely interested and want to know how you actually make any money out of it. Or if you actually do for that matter. People now know what blogging or vlogging is. They may not understand it or the mechanics of it, but they know what it is.
The same goes for social media. Five years ago many roles we now see within the industry of social media didn’t exist. Now it’s as mainstream a career as being an accounts person is. Many journalists or those who have obtained journalism degrees are finding work within social media due to the decline in traditional journalism jobs. Bloggers are being used more by mainstream media. Bloggers are self-teaching themselves all manner of skills that make them employable within mainstream media, PR, marketing etc. Social media as a whole industry is now mainstream.
When I first started out working in social media clients would come to me and say either they needed a social media presence because they didn’t have one. Or they didn’t understand why they needed one but had been told they needed it and wanted me to sort it for them. Fast forward to now and I’ve found it’s more a process of explaining to the client that they don’t just need to be on social media. They don’t need to just get good at that. They need to get good at their marketing as a whole.
Social media is now the tool that your marketing message is delivered on. Whether you’re a business, a public figure, a blogger or a vlogger, you are using social media to market yourself in some way. You may think it’s just a way of staying connected to your audience. Well yes, it is. But being connected to your audience ultimately means you are marketing yourself in some way to them. Even if it’s just that you want them to tweet you back, at some point you will put something out to your audience that you want them to take action on. That could be that you want them to watch a video, read a blog or buy a product. Everything you do up to that point is positioning yourself, marketing yourself to get a response to that call to action.
The problems I now see is that social media is shifting massively and the industry itself has become flooded with so-called ‘experts’. The bar to entry as a profession has become particularly low when actually the broad spectrum of skills required to understand what is going on, are quite advanced. Sometimes it feels like anyone that’s had a Twitter log on for longer than 10 minutes feels that they can be a social media manager or marketer. But actually what the recent changes have shown us is that you need a very clear understanding of the fundamentals of marketing.
Lots of people understand the technical aspects. How to tweet, different Facebook post types, pages, groups, events, live streaming etc etc. Plenty understand how to create funnels, make videos, take nice photos etc. But unless that is just part of your overall marketing strategy, then what you are doing on social just becomes fragmented and dilutes your overall message.
Now, more than ever, social media needs to be across all of your marketing activity and all functions of your business. For example, are your staff sharing your social media posts? Are they your biggest cheerleaders? Encouraging employee advocacy on social media is something many businesses forget about. But think about it logically. If your staff can’t rave about the company they work for and show public support for it then why should you expect your customers to?
Obviously, if you are a small business that’s either just you or a very small team then you’d hope you all know what’s going on!
IT’S NOT A SIDESHOW
I’ve had a lot of businesses come to me in the past that just want to hand over their social media. They don’t want to have any part of what is going on there. They give me a very brief outline and then want to send me on my way to sort it all out. They viewed their social media as an outside operation to their businesses. They didn’t incorporate it as a whole. This approach never works. And it most certainly won’t work now.
Your social media now is like a window into your company or your life. It should reflect all that is going on. Well, all that you are ok with the public seeing. You might not want to publish your tax returns. Your offline activity needs to match your online. So, say for example you’re a real estate agent that runs newspaper adverts as well as having an active social presence. The rule of sevens in marketing should logically tell you that you would place the same properties in your newspaper adverts as your social media posts. However, demographics data should tell you who is most likely to see their ideal property in a newspaper (likely to be older perhaps looking for a bungalow) versus online, (think young, trendy apartment). So the very basics of knowing your target audience but making sure they see your message needs to be understood.
Your social media person may well know how to create an amazing eye-catching post on Instagram. But is the content relevant to the audience that will see it there?
So yes, having someone do all your social media for you is great, but do they understand your business as a whole? Do they understand marketing in general? Do they understand any business at all?
IT’S NOT NEW ANYMORE
We know that social media isn’t the shiny new toy in the box anymore. It’s that really important part of your business that actually needs to be taken care of. Don’t just hand it over to someone and then have no knowledge or input of what’s going on. If you’ve ever read my post over on Socially Famous PR about When Tweets Go Toxic, you’ll know that one bad tweet can kill a reputation stone dead. Just look at all the examples we saw of this before Christmas. People being pulled off tv shows, sacked from roles, publicly embarrassed. It’s not nice when it happens and can cause lasting damage. So it’s important to have a good grip of what is going on socially. But likewise, if a tweet can break you, it can also make you.
Think of your social media presence like the shop window to your business or life as a blogger. You wouldn’t put every single item you sell in the window. But you would ensure that it’s the best version of your business that someone see’s if they do look in. You wouldn’t leave the dressing of the shop window to the cleaner. You’d get someone in that knew how to make it look amazing. But then that person may need others to help them that know about lighting or how to build things. They wouldn’t make the items for the display themselves, someone else would have done that. Do you see what I mean? Dressing the shop window is a team effort. Your social media should also be a team effort.
The new Facebook algorithm changes will mean that businesses are going to have to spend some money on adverts to be seen. Again, that’s your shop window. Make sure your adverts give the best possible representation of your business. Learn as much as you can about your audience and what they want to see because it’s going to be harder to reach them. So make sure that when you do reach them they get a good enough impression that they will look out for you in the future.
Start taking your social media seriously. It’s not the new thing you don’t know how to use anymore. It’s mainstream and huge amounts of people use it a lot every day. Even my Mum sent her first tweet yesterday! Start to take it seriously and part of your overall marketing, not just a sideshow someone else can deal with. Call in an expert to help guide you through the process, come up with ideas, integrate it, even help you do it. That would be me by the way if you didn’t notice the hint.
But as the captain of your ship (that’s you the business owner) take control of the direction your social media is going in and make sure everyone else knows about it. Last week we talked about getting your family and friends to be your cheerleaders for your Micro Biz. Well, this is you now leading the cheerleaders from the front!
And get social! Social media, blogging, vlogging, influencer marketing and all other connected fields are still only very new industries that are still finding their feet. They will make many more twists and turns before they become more defined. But there’s no escaping them. They aren’t going away anytime soon. If social media isn’t at the forefront of your overall marketing plan, then I suggest you give me a call and we get you booked in for a consult as soon as possible. Because if you aren’t social in 2018 when massive economic changes start to happen over the coming years, you may get left behind. And nobody wants that!
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Author: Samantha Martin