When Social Media Marketing Will Hurt Your Business More Than It Will Help.
This post came about because of a somewhat challenging marketing problem a friend, who at one time was a client, introduced me to. My friend referred me to an online company who was looking for some marketing guidance and thought I could help. I went into the interview not really knowing what kind of help they needed. I did know they were an eCommerce company and had been around for several years.
Social Media and SEO as eCommerce Objectives
They said they wanted to increase sales through social media, improve their SEO, and they were also interested in using video. I thought, perfect, those are all areas I have some expertise in.
They seemed a little concerned that I hadn’t used their preferred content management system (CMS.) But I didn’t think posting on their CMS would be a problem. To be extra sure I could use their system I build a site using Magento over the weekend. This is the CMS they were using. I talked with them on a Friday and by Monday I had installed Magento, learned to do several different kinds of posts, and I also had a chance to do a quick SEO and social media audit.
My eCommerce Test Site
There is not much on the site I put together, but it did give me insight into this CMS. Here is the site and it is for sale if anyone would like to buy it. http://beautyandwisdom.com I added a few things I had around the house as test products for the site.
The biggest insight working with Magento was learning about its search engine optimization (SEO) quirks. It doesn’t look too bad, but there are a few things I found interesting. I really need to take a look at it in Google Search Console. One thing that bothered me at first was that most of the online audit tools didn’t see the H1 tag. When I look at the source code in a browser I can see they are there. I also think there are some add ons that would help improve the SEO for these sites.
The quick SEO audit I did showed that their site did perform better than 50 percent of other sites. Technically it seemed okay. Although I did have some questions about the backlink profile.
Website Copy Was Technically So-So to Okay
While the website functioned well enough the copy needed some work. It read like it was written by someone who was highly skilled at English as a second language. There was nothing really wrong with the text, it just didn’t read well. Oh wait, there was one huge problem with the copy and text.
The Big Marketing Problem
The biggest problem I found in the text, with the website, and the business objectives is that much of the text was misleading.
The social media audit proved that customers felt the same way. If I was to develop and implement an effective social media strategy for this company they would need to change their entire value proposition.
I would not recommend using social media marketing until the website fundamentals have been improved.
You can’t do effective social marketing if people have mostly bad things to say about buying from you. I could get social buzz for this company, but without change, I think it would be more harmful than helpful.
I wrote an overview outlining what I thought needed to be done but they never got back to me. I also wrote a sample post as an example of what would be needed for an integrated strategy to boost sales, provide internal links to site videos/products, increase positive social comments, and get back links. In the long run this type of site strategy would build the trust needed to move customers from buying on third party sites to shopping on the company’s site.
This would not be a quick fix and would require cooperation from the entire management team.
I did not put together any suggestions for a separate video strategy. I though in the beginning the videos would be used in a rather straight forward way to support the site revision. My plan was to start with product videos. While product videos aren’t my favorite type of video they can be done with some artistic and business creativity. Sometimes it is best to start with the basics. While the video usage did seem basic, it had a subtle but very important purposes of developing a market oriented mindset in management and to promote a company culture.
I imagine they thought the cost and effort was a bit more than what they wanted to invest. They will probably do just fine sticking to their current strategy and tactics. But, it will be informative to see how they evolve over time.
Social media is the art of narrative; it’s the art of liking, sharing, curation, creation, and media.
You are reading part one of a three part series.
Part one explores the role of social media in your business.
Part two will go over Sharing on social networks
Part three will dive into Curation on social media sites.
In the future I plan on adding a fourth part “creating content,” but that is not started yet and may take some time to finish. At this time I am starting to shift my resources from curating and sharing to content creation.
What place does social media have in your business?
“What does social media mean to your business” is more than a rhetorical question. How you answer will determine how you use media. Your answer will establish the role social and other forms of media play in your business’s processes, structure, and culture. Your business’s narrative shapes and is shaped by your company culture. No matter how clever your marketing/media strategy is, if it’s not aligned with your company’s culture it has a less than good chance for success.
A narrative is what defines and differentiates your business from its competitors. Within your narrative is your unique selling proposition.
Many companies think too narrowly about media and especially social media. Of course it does depend on the needs of the company. But even businesses that only want simple social posting can get much more out of social (digital/new media) than they are aware of.
Instead of thinking only about posting the same things on all your social networking sites try to think in broader terms. There may be good reasons for posting the same thing on all sites, but you need to know what they are and why you are doing it.
Online social networking can be thought of as interacting with others. Being social is a big part of social media. Often a major element of an online social strategy is sharing, curation, content creation, and posting media on sites where you can interact with your fans. All of these elements can help with lead generation and ultimately sales.
Thinking of your content as both social and media may be helpful when deciding on what content to use in your digital marketing and promotions. Are you posting useless dribble or are you posting to attract your target audience? Are you being intrusive and clobbering your audience with unwanted advertising?
While broadcast TV may not always be of the highest quality, they do try to air somewhat entertaining content. Entertaining is subjective and can include educational content and news.
What kind of information will your customers find useful for understanding how your product or service can help them. When I had a dog training business I tried to give potential customers a taste of what they could expect from working with me. I have quite a bit of information on my websites, I gave away a free puppy training booklet, and I had an inexpensive online training course where people could sample how I worked and what we would be doing with in-home dog training.
I am starting to develop resources for my promotion/media business so that I can help others in my new niche in a similar way. I plan to write a book about my experience of starting and bootstrapping a business at a time in life when most folks are retiring. I hope to chronicle the business journey from start to finish. This site will be part of that journey, so if you are at all interested you may want to follow this blog. I am also working on documenting my 7 step program oriented toward business and marketing.
The media you create should have some incentive for your target audience. Understanding your audience is paramount to creating engaging content. Incentive is the foundation of my marketing trilogy. Without incentive there is no interest. The other parts of the marketing trilogy, attention and acceptance, are special attributes of incentive. Attention allows you to engage with your audience. Acceptance involves earning the trust needed to move forward with the sale.
In today’s market customers are currently doing much of their research online before contacting a company. Social outreach and promotion can help generate interest when people start their research. This is thought of as filling the top if the sales funnel. The proper use of social media can also help build trust, thought leadership, and demonstrate expertise. Trust does become more important towards the the middle of the funnel and towards the end when the purchase decision is made.
Who is doing your social media and how important are they?
Your social outreach talent/personnel can range from low value staff to creative staff that are versatile enough to be integrated into your business’s strategy team. Those involved with a business’s daily social media are in a unique position to provide critical business insight and intelligence. Your social staff can be used like the unorthodox troops mentioned by Sun Tzu as necessary for a winning strategy. In The Art Of War Sun Tzu said “in battle one engages with the orthodox and gains victory through the unorthodox.” Sometimes online marketing is like a battle. Even if you don’t use unethical unorthodox methods you should be aware of them. If you’re to do well without a big budget you must be able to come up with ethical unorthodox methods.
I do think digital marketers should use standard promotional tactics. However, social media/digital marketing staff should always be ready to use more unorthodox (and ethical) methods when the opportunity or need arises.
Learning the market and the social landscape.
Those in social can act like anthropologists as they pursue the study of humans in their natural online habitats. This can become even more fine grained by the comparative study of different online cultures.
I used to spend a month every year watching the wild dogs in Taiwan. This is the realm of the ethologist.
I use these same observation skill in my job as an experiential marketer. While I have enjoyed engaging with and observing people over the last three years I now think it may be time to move into something new. There are new jobs I would like to dive into, but it seems like a new business is more realistic.
By Incorporating observational skills with the reinforcement theory of behaviorism we can come up with some new insights, solutions, and approaches. However, this formula is still missing a component. The missing link that makes information useful is mythos. Mythology is born from narrative. Many people will not be able to incorporate new information into their lives without a compelling narrative.
Using observation, reinforcement, and narrative as points of reference can lead to the development of new products and promotions. These three points of reference are also used for implementing new sales and marketing programs, lead generation systems, and thought leadership.
While I may talk about these three areas as points of reference in relation to marketing they are only components of the 7 primary points of reference in my 7 step program.
Some of the areas your social staff can monitor and influence are:
Keeping up-to-date on technology
Keeping up-to-date on social platforms
Search Engine Optimization – Someone good at social should be useful for SEO as well
Depending on style guides they can differentiate one business from another
Gain market insight and build competitive intelligence.
Can bring some social clout to the company from their personal online footprint. (it is often easier to build social trust from a personal profile than a business profile.)
Network with other people in the industry, social, and media
Creative integration of all the various digital marketing components
Help integrate online promotions with offline
Research products, people, and businesses
Social media is not easy and it takes time, often a lot of time. It’s not unusual for me to spend over 10 hours a day working on social networking. I spent up to 16 hours a day to build the over quarter of a million member Dogs community.
Many people fail to realize how much time is involved in doing social well. When Google Plus Communities were new I worked quite diligently to build the Dogs Community into a thriving spam free place for dog lovers to post their dog’s pictures and make new friends. It was not uncommon for me to spend over 16 hours a day interacting with members and promoting the community to outside social networks. That group now has over a quarter million members. I no longer spend that much time on social media but I still spend a good chunk of time being social.
There are a lot of articles about using online tools for managing and curating social content. In part 2 and 3 I’m going to tell you a little about how I do most of my social sharing without using a lot of fancy tools at all. I believe that social is more about relationships and stories than what kind of tools you use. I do think automating the social process can make it a bit less social.
My New Media Marketing Business Revolves Around My Follower’s Best Interest
I am transitioning from my old business to a new media marketing business. At the turn of the century I had a friend who suggested I change careers. He encouraged me to start offering online marketing instead of continuing with the business I dedicated most of my life to.
My friend’s suggestion was based on my ability to get quite good search engine ranking and a couple years later on my use of online forums and social media. Even back then it was not uncommon for me to spend three to eight hours a day doing online marketing.
I have been active online for more than 17 years. This activity has ranged from building websites to building engaged and robust communities, oh yes, and a lot of online promotion.
My involvement with video started long before I became interested in the internet and online marketing. In fact I would have to say the video I started with is not even classified as new media. It was the old tape and liner editing back then.
It has taken about 2 years for me to finally wind down my old business and fully commit to offering my services in the areas of marketing and video production.
The New Media Mingle Website Revolves Around My Follower’s Best Interest, Which Means I’m Not Just A Marketing Hired Gun
I am offering a new media approach to marketing, mingled with some old fashion promotion. This approach involves presenting a marketing message (the story) mingled with entertaining content. Yes, that’s right I am offering marketing as entertainment. My message is – Lets all move away from the old media model of interruption first advertising.
The inspiration for this post grew from a job offer to deceive Netizens
I think viewers, followers, and fans should be treated with respect and as friends and allies. Don’t you think it’s about time marketers move away for the model of treating followers and fans as an enemy that needs to be overcome with deception and trickery. Shifting customer orientation to a position of respect brings me to the genesis of this post.
The idea for this post was prompted by a business offer I recently received. This site has not been active for very long and it’s not yet ranking in search so I’m glad to get inquiries whether from online or offline.
The problem with the business offer is that it was to start with some rather nefarious online marketing. The questionable marketing practice was something, I in no way was interested in.
Unfortunately, I rejected the video project that went with it based on the ethics of that business. I am wondering if my desire to do what is best for my current and future followers is going to get in the way of getting new business.