So why social media?

why social mediaIf in fact the organic reach of social media is declining and Facebook is now concentrating on serving ads a marketer might ask “why do we need social media?”.  The answer is as complex as a consumer’s purchasing decision, but make no mistake about it; consumers expect you to be there when THEY need you not for the convenience of broadcasting irrelevant information.

If I look back at all the hype around social media perhaps the biggest mistake was in thinking that social media was going be the Holy Grail of consumer marketing.  This myth was put forward by a lot of self serving social media experts and agencies who were trying to line their pockets with the ignorance of hype believing business people.  However, it now seems that the “promises” of social media have fallen back to earth after burning up in the atmosphere.

The key strategic question now becomes “do we need to be on social media?”.  My answer is yes.  You need to be there for two reasons.  First, it’s a great channel to listen to the thoughts and the pulse of consumers.  Second, consumers are turning to social media to post questions and comments about your brand/product.  If you don’t respond in Internet time you risk the possibility of alienating the 20% of your audience who gives you 80% of your revenue.

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Before you decide to allocate any resources to social media probably the best thing you can do is to not over-promise on the results.  Set realistic expectations with key stakeholders and executives and clearly define the success criteria.  It’s hard to face the music when you asked for a lot of money for a Facebook page and have 500,000 likes but sales are declining.

Social media is about users, not you, and users want to know that you’re listening and, more importantly, paying attention.  There is nothing worse to a consumer than becoming a customer of a brand that won’t listen.  Put your social media ears on and respond to people as individuals because today we can’t afford to lose even one customer.

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