Is Social Media a Snow Job?

5 Ways Social Media is Old Fashioned Marketing

The fresh, big, thick, white flakes that coat the city make me wonder whether all the hype about social media just is another snow job.

Want to know why I think that social media may just be a snow job?

Here’re three reasons:

  1. Media frenzy. There’s social media hype everywhere. It’s the flavour du jour across the mainstream media. Social media products and actions have even entered the dictionary.
  2. Time waster. Any of the major tracking companies will reveal that we spend a lot of time with social media although not as much as we do with television. In addition, smartphones allow us to connect on the go so we can interact 24/7, even if company firewalls won’t let us.
  3. Only for kids. Hey—aren’t we all kids at heart? Regardless of how old we are, we still think that we’re teenagers. Get real! The 65+ set is the fastest growing demographic on social media networks.

Did any one say communications?

At its core, social media is another communications channel.

  1. Social media enables communications. It supplies everyone, individuals and organizations with platforms to distribute their message broadly to their social graph and beyond.
  2. Social media provides a media conduit to deliver information. In the traditional sense of media, social media options allow anyone to become a publisher of content using a wide array of formats including text, photographs, audio, video and PDFs.
  3. Social media communicates by allowing one-to-many, one-to-one and many-to-many conversations that connects people and organizations.

5 Ways Social Media is Old-Fashioned Marketing

The reality is that social media is good for business, particularly when it comes to marketing. Here’s five ways that social media provides value and doesn’t snow senior executives.

  1. Customers own your brand. While many would like to believe that this is a new view of marketing. Sorry, it goes back to Trout and Ries’ marketing classic, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. The big difference is that businesses can now listen directly to their customers without surveys and focus groups.
  2. Customers recommend products. Old fashioned word of mouth (aka WOM) marketing. People have been asking family and friends for suggestions for services for years. For many, it’s still how they get their doctors, dentists and hairdressers. Now they have Facebook and Twitter as well as sites like Yelp and Vitals.
  3. Customers seek discounts and specials. Research shows that the biggest reason that consumers follow brands on social media, Facebook in particular, is to get special deals. Shoppers have done this for years, think newspaper coupon clipping gone viral. It’s just another media format delivering the offer. Additionally, there are sites focused on coupons like Groupon.
  4. Customers need support and service for the products they buy. In the past, companies could hide their customer service in the basement of their store. Not anymore, retailers like Zappos have changed how people view service. (Check out Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness.) This extends beyond returns. It’s community forums to support usage and blogs and videos to show how to use the product. Dad doesn’t have to spend Christmas Day trying to put a toy together anymore.
  5. Customers can be intensely loyal. Harley Davidson owners (aka HOGS) are at the pinnacle of that list. What will your customers do for your brand?

These five elements are all grounded in old-fashioned marketing techniques. They work when you deliver a strong product to customers with service to make them more useful. While your social media tribe will handle some issues, the challenge is that, if there’s a significant problem, the negative factors will get out and spread faster. To this end, have a good brand monitoring program in place, social media guidelines and a crisis management plan to deal with any storm.

What do you think? Is social media really a snow job? Why do you think so?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit:  ElkeR via Flickr

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