Social Media Marketing – The Most Darwinian Business Idea
Social media marketing is undeniably here. Even with the tipping point squarely in Internet marketing’s rear-view mirror, there are many social media marketing misconceptions, hang-ups and strange ideas.
What is it worth to be viewed as human, caring, flawed, brave and responsive? Your presence in social media is you or your company’s first step in an important subjective and objective journey; your customers’ idea of you as COMPANY or BRAND, and so impenetrably non-human, is changed by a mere presence in social media marketing.
Walking in the door of social media marketing means you are ready, willing and able to listen and learn. Listening, as our COO Mark Foulkrod likes to say, with “intent”, may be the most prized and hardest to find COMPANY or BRAND skill in a flat, furious and quickly evolving Internet marketing time.
Few things in our current marketing ecommerce or retailing world are truly free. Having customers see your COMPANY, BRAND, PRODUCT or SERVICE as more human, and so able to be loved, is something you get free with your first Tweet, Facebook page, Paper.li or Scoop.it.
Can initial social media value, the kind you get for free just walking in the social media marketing door, be offset by stupidity, ignorance and greed? Sure, but poor performance by some doesn’t change truth. Soon, winning customer hearts and minds will require, mandate and insist upon robust social media marketing presence. No Facebook page = no COMPANY or BRAND (or no viable company or brand, no trusted company or brand, no sustainable company or brand).
Count, measure, slide rule, spreadsheet and P&L your social media marketing. The subjective truth of social media marketing’s value doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bean count the heck out of it. No, the truth of social media marketing’s main benefit, that social media makes it possible, as Faith Popcorn so famously declared, to “join” your COMPANY or BRAND doesn’t change your business need for understandable profit.
Don’t count the wrong things in the wrong ways. Profit and Return On Investment (ROI) aren’t the most important ideas or values behind social media marketing’s curtain. Backstage, social media’s most important contributions come from your company’s human struggle to survive, matter and contribute (change the world) in meaningful ways.
Connecting customers to your company’s inner and universal human truths is not a new idea. Customer service, company mission, values and philosoph, as Jim Collins pointed out so convincingly in Good To Great, have always been important initial ideas and predictors of eventual success. Social media marketing means what used to be private is now much more public. Social media, blogs and Google killed your company’s ability to keep secrets, so don’t.
Humans are funny. The longer I live the more clear it is – high school never really ends. We stamp our feet, exclude those not “like” us and generally act foolish and immature about half the time. Does social media marketing expose COMPANY and BRAND immaturity?
At times being social does expose cracks because, and this can be a hard idea to fully grasp, social marketing can only EVER reflect the character you, your company, brands and products already have. Social media is a giant, amplifying, reflecting pool. Social marketing doesn’t create values. Adding social media marketing only confirms values already present. Does social media marketing on Facebook or Twitter make COMPANIES and BRANDS look bad? At times it does. Is having those mistakes made so large and public the most important thing any COMPANY or BRAND can do? Without a doubt.
Customers will forgive, guide and understand failure. Soon, no existing or potential customer will forgive social absence.
Social media marketing absence is an arrogance no company can afford. “But we don’t know the ROI of social media,” I hear owners and CFOs saying after I share that last sentence in meetings. Companies like Argyle Social and Spring Metrics are creating tools to measure the strange, chaotic and confusing multi-touch world that is Internet marketing. Just as in the beginning of Google’s Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising (I purchased my first keywords in 1999), social media’s value is in advance of tools needed to validate social’s true positive influence on COMPANY and BRAND bottom lines.
If I can convince you of one thing today, let’s hope it is this – The greatest value, the greatest return on your social media marketing investment, comes from making your COMPANY and BRAND feel true, flawed, real and therefore able to be loved. We don’t love Greek Gods, we read about them. We don’t love despots, we depose them. We don’t love uncaring companies or brands, we oppose them and, in so doing, try to help them find their, and by extension our, humanity.
Create and invest in a social media marketing plan because you must. Bean count it to within an inch of its life, but never forget your COMPANY and BRAND is social because there is, in the end, no other sustainable choice.