All noise and no substance?
Social Media Marketing is often accused of being “all noise and no substance”. It is plain to see where that cliché comes from: Tacky posts, misleading headlines, miscellaneous click-bait gibberish all pollute our social media assets occasionally.
Only thing is, the contrary is pretty much actually entirely true.
To further expound this, social media is often mentioned couched in a “millennial” narrative: Kids these days. All gadgets and no real work. Immediate gratification and iPhones. I personally find these anti-millennial clichés borderline scandalous, considering that they will all get to pay our retirements, and are largely what we made them anyway. Or that boomers have nothing to teach millennials in terms of self-entitlement if you ask me. Or that Gen X sound a bit jealous when they mock the millennials desire to find some meaning and work life balance. But let’s keep to the topic: Social media is often perceived as some vapid, hypocritical, whorish, shallow, millennial fad.
Only thing is: despite its excesses, it remains a much more ethical way to promote one self, products or services, than traditional marketing. I hear snorts of disapproval. Let me explain:
Social media marketing is part of inbound marketing, a broader and smarter label than the overused “social media” one. Inbound marketing includes all different types of marketing that rely on “pulling” your audience through, from strangers originally to qualified leads, clients, and ideally, promoters. It also includes SEO for example.
And the good thing about Inbound Marketing is that at its very core lies the notion that you need to offer some genuine value to your audiences online, to be able to nurture an open valuable dialogue with them. In recruitment it means actually rediscovering a human voice on social media and all the cultural change it implies. We are not talking cold-calling here. We are not talking pulverising a small forest every time you want to do a direct marketing drive. We are not talking smearing your potential customers’ eyeballs with a gaudy TV ad just when the hero of your movie was about to address the big villain.
Traditional marketing approaches are often “interruptive” (not to be confused with the “disruptive” tag often used when describing social media marketing techniques). By interruptive we mean just that, interrupting your potential lead with an unrequited cold call. Pushing TV ads to an unwilling audience. And offering little value to them, rather try to somehow push / manipulate them into buying your stuff.
Free / Freemium tools
Another great thing about social media marketing is that it gives power back to the small entrepreneur, the ambitious manager and in general to business owners who cannot rest on a massive presence to muscle out competitors.
It allows for people with a genuine voice and story to put it on the market at lower cost. It raises the competitiveness bar in economies that are all too often dominated by a web of oligarch companies.
Of course, it is not entirely free, social media marketing done right takes at least time. It also requires you to occasionally purchase the paying version of a software. But these pale in comparison with the colossal budgets needed in traditional marketing to be able to compete on a vaguely level playing field.
I was going to post a few links about the superior Return On Investment of social media marketing over traditional marketing, but there are too many to choose from. You can Google “Inbound Marketing RoI vs traditional marketing” and you will find a lot of interesting research on that topic.
Changing customer habits favour inbound marketing
Another great reason to adopt inbound marketing and social media marketing is that they were born because of / they are continuously bolstered by changing customer habits. Long of the short: The average customer in any industry is getting more and more fed up with receiving cold calls, spam and/or direct mail. There is a wide spectrum of causes behind this sea change. I’ll venture a few educated guesses:
- Individuals and professionals all over the world are becoming more and more time poor. They want to consume product information when they want, not receive a cold call between two meetings, or worse still in the evenings when they are trying to enjoy some kind of work / life balance and family time.
- The ubiquitous nature of the internet has deeply revolutionised the way people consume information. Gone are the days when they relied on the TV ad to get any sense of what options were out there for their purchasing needs. Or picking up the phone to ask for a brochure. One click away they can just find anything they like.
- Information deficit, for a long time a great meta-tool in the arsenal of sales and marketing professionals, is fast vanishing. Anyone can get information, check references, read case studies online. Sending a brochure making ample use of “market leading” and “premier service” just doesn’t cut it anymore.
- Some traditional marketing approaches like direct mailings rely on tools that are highly detrimental to the environment. Most of us never think much of it in our every day choices, save for when we receive day in day out some direct mail that we don’t even want to hear about! Large amounts of wasted paper, to interrupt your potential customers every morning and that 99% of them will never open or best even interested in!
And you get to know your supplier too
I don’t know about but I have always thought that having found some good, reliable suppliers who work well with my business is almost as important as finding good clients.
Besides offering actual value instead of bothering your audience, inbound marketing also allows you to showcase your voice and tone to your future potential clients. How many times have we all gone through the unpleasant experience of finding out that a supplier’s culture, and attitude, is nowhere near what we had imagined by reading the shmick advertisement?
Inbound marketing and its corollary approaching of “nurturing leads” allows for a gentle contact of increasing quality. And one where your authenticity is one of your best tools. Writing authentic content is a bonding experience at emotional level. So they will get to know you.
More on your “why”, tone, culture, and emotional buying
If you are curious to know more on how leads and clients buy what you do based on how they feel about you, and why you do what you do, rather than just what you do, you should find this link useful. Simon Sinek’s watershed book now a TED Talk: “Start with why” – TED Talk