- By john mataraza
- On October 19th, 2011
- In Social Media 101
It worked for a long time. The yelling. The shouting. The screaming. The direct mail, so voluminous it darkened the skies on its way to your mailbox. The billboards, demanding your attention while battling the afternoon commute. The formulaic :30 TV spots featuring some unfunny story line for the first :15 seconds, making a feeble attempt to tell you about the product for :5, and talking up an offer for the remaining :10 with a sense of urgency so intense it seemed like the world would end if you didn’t “call now”. Fact is, we’ve managed to cram every marketing pipe so full of messages that ultimately the only decision the customer is left to make is how to tune it all out. And tune it out they have. DVR’s now shield viewers from TV commercials, direct mail ends up right in the trash especially if its source is an unlovable brand (and most DM is), radio is now so littered with advertising that many have defected by paying for mostly commercial free satellite radio. It turns out that consumers have found a way to reject, tune out, or just ignore all this megaphone marketing very well. Customers have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to many of these one way conversations held on the terms of the advertiser. You see, all of these messages are delivered at a time and via a mechanism that works for us as advertisers, however, generally this is not in alignment with customer desire.
Enter social media marketing.
By nature, good social media marketing exhibits several key differences from our traditional megaphone marketing:
• At the core of social is listening, not shouting
• It’s ‘delivered’ on the terms of the consumer, eaten and digested when and generally how the consumer wants it
• Social marketing provides a platform for a two way dialog. Instead of a one way information flow, social allows the advertiser to generate curiosity which ultimately will get the consumer to “lean in” to the discussion rather than be blown back by the immediate call to action cacophony.
Any good conversation is a healthy mix of back and forth, give and take, question and answer. Ask yourself if you’ve ever walked up to a busy person on the street and just begun talking to them about your product while they were clearly already engaged in something else? Of course not, yet this is essentially how we disseminate our marketing messages every day. Conversations need to be invited and accepted by both parties, they can’t be forced. Social media marketing is all about conversation and customer engagement. Quality conversations also generally happen with both parties can “agree” on when they should happen. Herein lies the fatal flaw of traditional advertising, it is almost always executed solely on the terms of the advertiser in a one way direction without waiting to see if anybody is even interested in listening. On the other hand, social encourages prospective customers to lean into the message and engage in a dialog. This dialogue might be with the brand itself or it could be with other potential consumers. While both potential outcomes are favorable, the second allows for what amounts to third party propagation of your message and will be much more likely to be considered by additional consumers.
The reality is traditional marketing does still work. Brands are going to continue to spend on traditional media and send those mountains of direct mail as long as they get that 1% return. After all, if you yell at enough people some of them are bound to listen to you at some point. However, the issue brands need to ask themselves is “how well is it actually working?” and “what can I do to help my traditional tactics work more effectively?”. Developing a marketing mix which leverages traditional tactics while weaving in an intelligent blend of social media is most likely to yield the most favorable results and allow brands to get their customers to lean in. Customers that are leaning in are going to be much more apt to listen to what you have to say which ultimately is the whole point.