You walk into the ring to do some sparring with the new guy. You don’t intend to be over confident, you know that’s dangerous, but really, you’ve sparred lots before, you’ve earned your bruises, and you’ve been in the ring many times before.
Turns out this guy isn’t looking for some light weight sparring practice, he’s here for a fight. And he’s come with more techniques, weapons and experience than you even knew existed and before your trainer has finished saying “begin” you’re on your back wondering what the hell happened saying these words, “did I win?” If you have to ask, you didn’t.
And that’s how I felt at the end of my first Digital Social Media class in the #PACE program at the University of Winnipeg. This class is being taught by @ of Vine Multimedia (chances are you’re following him on twitter).
I know my way around social media, at least I thought I did as I’ve had some success (you don’t create a successful Kickstarter campaign without SOME social media thoughts in your head). Backend, analytics, promotions, and advertising on social media sites are all in my portfolio of experience. I realize now that my experience has been pretty narrow in focus as I’ve built and learned towards task completion. As an example, If I needed a product contest promotion, I figured out how to run one. It’s not wrong, just incomplete, and I think I’m in a good class to learn more of the big picture of marketing with social media, not marketing on social media.
So I’m going to share some of the “big thoughts” that reached me on this first class and the following classes (and not just for the credit but there is that at play here). Here’s the top 5 hot concepts I picked up from my this first class:
1. Know the Principles and Mechanics Will Follow.
There’s lots of ways to accomplish something but only a few reasons why. You need to know the why to better choose the method. With literally hundreds of social networks to choose from you have to know WHY you would choose one over the other. The HOW to use can come later once you’ve established the reason for the larger strategy. The “how” of social media would be your tactics, smaller task specific goals that accomplish the final goal, content that engages users. More on that later.
2. Authenticity Lies between Public and Private Personas.
Perfect time for a Venn Diagram. Super excited, never had opportunity to make a Venn diagram before in an serious context, kinda blew it through sheer excitement.
3. If all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.
Have access to and knowledge of the users of lots of social networks. Their functionality for use is basically the same, so don’t worry about the learning curve of picking up a new one, you’ll get it with a little practice. Each marketing problem/opportunity has an ideal customer in mind, your choice of social network should reflect this, so don’t get trapped into thinking Facebook the only tool you have in your work shed.
4. The Good, The Bad and the Grey of Social Ethics.
In all things, people game the system to their best advantage. Marketers on social networks are no different in this regards with “like” buying, link building, and stolen content. I believe that the black hat guys from SEO are moving into the less tamed land of social networks as Google tames their former fields. It’s up to the individual to decide how far they’ll go to accomplish their goals and in social media it’s no different with some people choosing the return being more important than the methods. Social media doesn’t have a written set of right and wrong, so for good or ill, it’s up to the individual paying the bills and expecting returns to determine this on their own. Eventually lawmakers might catch up to today’s online ethical questions, but don’t hold your breath.
5. Offline success is the only metric that matters.
Every social network has metrics, the numbers behind the use, for every action you perform towards which it is measured for success. This is great for marketers as previously there has been a lot of guesswork towards actual performance in traditional marketing. Who really knew how many people read that billboard? You could take educated guesses to how many people walked or drove by but actual people who read it was a mystery, same with print ads or flyers.
In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.
Decades ago advertising legend David Oglivy had the brilliant idea that the only measure of the success of the ads he created for clients was one thing: results. He would forgo flashy campaigns and build for the results that mattered to his clients. His well written long text ads actually sold more products, so that’s what he did, counter to the full page ads filled with photos that were gaining popularity at the time.
Same holds true for social media marketing (maybe not the length of text in an ad, people today have trouble focusing on that much copy). Engagement is great, so is having a huge number of shares or likes, but if at the end of the day the offline actions (so called conversions) people take because of your efforts are the only ones that matter in social marketing.
Now I know some of you may disagree with me on some of my conclusions reached from my class so it’s your turn. Punch me in the face, wake me up, and teach me what social media marketing means by commenting below. Don’t worry, I have my mouth guard in, I can take a pretty good beating if it helps me learn.