Ignorantium
More reactive than flourine. Funnier than boron.
Are You a Social Media Slut, Tease or Whore?
Categories: marketing, social media

I won’t be doing a lot of marketing or social media posts under the new design. I think there is a lot of noise in the social media space right now, and most of it is the same set of basic marketing concepts masquerading as insightful commentary. What’s worse is that this information is simply being forwarded and retweeted by folks who seem more interested in building their own social media bona fides than actually doing any real thinking on their own. I’ll do the world a favor and not add to the noise.

That being said, I’ve been going back through a lot of old posts about social media, and I am struck by all the praise for some marketing efforts that don’t seem to deserve it. For instance, recently a quick service restaurant ran a giveaway on their Facebook fan page. It was a pretty sizeable prize and attracted some good attention once the giveaway went viral. The company was patted on the back for increasing their fan following to several hundred thousand. Unfortunately, when the same company ran a campaign several months later aimed at those fans, asking for them to actually do something other than sign up, the campaign was a flop. Everyone knows where I’m going with this: It’s easy to attract followers when you’re giving something away, but harder when you require something in return.

As far as social media is concerned, and the self-appointed gods who rule it, it’s all about “building trust” and “creating relationships.” (Or maybe it’s creating trust and building relationships. Whatever.) You accomplish those goals, they say, by “listening to your network.” They tell you that social media is all about a two-way conversation with your connections. But what if your connections are simply saying, “Give me something. Free.” And what if that something they want you to give them is what you normally charge good money for. When do you draw the line? If all you’re doing is giving something away, at some point aren’t you either a slut or a sucker? And if you don’t give anything away, when do you cross the line to being a tease or a money-grubbing whore? (Sorry for the metaphors.)

I’m not sure I have a great answer, and that’s because I still think we’re at the front end of using social media as a productive marketing channel. I think it’s also because we’re still at the point where we’re looking at social media as some sort of distinct, special and sexy marketing channel, instead of being an integrated part of our communications strategies. Social media has the feel of something that can go viral and gain immediate attention. We assume, wrongly, that digital channels produce results quickly if done right. But attention isn’t the same as results. In that way, social media is more like traditional database and direct marketing. It takes time and effort to build up a good core database of customers and prospects, and that database has to be consistently and constantly cared for. It has to be analyzed, mined, tracked and cleaned. There is no quick way to do it. Anyone who believes there is will find out how fickle those followers and fans are when they find that the freebies have dried up.

After all, if social media is all about building solid relationships, and for all my criticism of the self-proclaimed experts who say so, I believe it is (though that’s hardly the earth-shaking revelation many of those experts believe it to be) Solid relationships, as any good touchy-feely couples therapist will tell you, are based on trust. And trust, those same folks will tell you, is the product of consistency and time. When people know you will consistently do the same thing over and over, they make the assumption that you will continue to do the same thing the next time. That works for people and companies.

I’ll be coming back to the campaign I mentioned above, because in many ways I think it actually had a negative effect at the end of the day. For now, suffice it to say that viral campaigns that quickly increase social media networks may make for a good story. They may make the marketing people who dreamed them up feel great. But if I can stick with my previous metaphor, in the end, are those hook-ups healthy relationships?

1 Comment to “Are You a Social Media Slut, Tease or Whore?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ignorantium and ignorantium, James Wester. James Wester said: RT @ignorantium: A new bit of wisdom at Ignorantium: : Are You a Social Media Slut, Tease or Whore. http://bit.ly/9rMQMw (Last tweet bombed) […]

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