In my day-to-day work, I am lucky enough to talk with big brands about their digital, content and social media marketing. In doing my work, which I absolutely love, I read and audit a lot of social updates from brands. And there is one thing on my holiday wish list: Stop trying to sell me stuff on social!
I get it, sometimes, we simple cannot stop ourselves, I guess. I wrote in a post earlier this year about the reasons we still stink at social and this one is just stuck in my craw! And there is nothing worse than something stuck in your craw during the holidays, because that right is reserved for family!
How are we still talking about this?
It goes without saying again: There is this thing. It is called the 80/20 rule. And in that rule, (which appears to be widely dismissed with impunity) it says that 80% of your content should be adding value to your fan’s experience. The rest (the 20%) can be about you and how lovely you are. And even in that 20%, it should still be valuable to the fan. Now, I am going to encourage you all to click off this article and do a quick test. I dare you to do a 10 second audit of your content. Take a look at the last 10 posts and tell me in the comments section how you did. I would bet the best we get is 50/50. (And to sweeten the pot, anyone that posts their brand’s info in the comments, will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Starbucks gift card.) In fact, I just did a quick review of the last 10 posts of a major food brand and guess what…10/90. If you wonder why your engagement is low…that is why.
People use social media to keep in touch with friends and family. What was once done via the phone is now done on Facebook en mass. This is also a channel for marketers to use to widely distribute information as well. But, let’s think about the phone paradigm for a second. If people use social to replace one-to-one calls, would you support a marketing strategy that has your brand calling fans on the phone to pitch products and nothing else? Of course you wouldn’t. Well maybe some of you would and note: this is a bad idea. And if you did this, I am guessing you would be hung up on, if the person even answered the phone at all. Because, well, it is kinda rude. But for some reason, social media makes it ok. Well, it isn’t.
If Santa brought me one wish it would be for 2014 to be the year that brands woke up and realized that this newish medium is different and should be treated differently. Social holds a promise of dialog and open-ness with transparency and authenticity. It allows us an opportunity to make people aware of why our widget is different than the others on the market. It is a place people can rally around a businesses culture and values. It is a place where real differentiation can happen, but it isn’t. This promise is being squandered. We could be using social to inspire others in ways that are aligned with the brand. Instead, we are still hooked on the Buy Now drug.
Can we really change?
Yes, I think we can change. Brand marketers believe in their brands. They know why they are special and why people should love them. They have a passion for the brand and the product. We need to take this passion and translate it into themes that are valuable to the fan. They don’t want pictures of frozen entrees. They want to be inspired to live a healthier life. They don’t want a picture of a winter jacket, they want to be inspired to summit a mountain or achieve something physically remarkable.
Give them the content, videos, pictures, stories and tools to do those things. And I would venture a guess that fans would increase and engagement would go up and if you are doing life-cycle attribution like my friend Nichole Kelly so passionately advocates, you would see that social has a huge impact on downstream revenue. But, in order to do that, you need to stop talking about you and show people how you add value to their lives. So, I will be lighting candles and sending notes to Santa. Happy Holidays everyone!