Veratasium’s claims go into the hopper of debate over which is best for business, Facebook or Google+, neither or both. It’s a complex decision made more difficult for small businesses with neither the budget nor talent to support a dedicated online social effort.
Mismanaged content meant the wrong kind of reach for this dealership.
Your Business On Social – It’s Really Not Personal
A six-month social media marketing consultation for a multi-line powersports dealership that reps several metric makes, a domestic brand, and PWC and OHV inventory was the inspiration for this post. Located in a large Southeastern market, a neglected social media program wasn’t producing the growth one might expect given their footprint.
Management depended on traditional automotive push marketing techniques based largely on motivational training and consisting largely of clichéd slogans and a steady diet of overwrought memes. Making matters worse was content posted by employees, one in particular, who didn’t understand that the approach required for a business page had nothing to do with their personal life online.
A Waste of Their Money and My Time
When I got involved the CMS vendor hired for site design and management had set up an incomplete Google+ page and a lamentable blog that immediately failed. These “assets” joined a struggling Facebook timeline and an abandoned Twitter feed that, together with a local weekly bike night, made up a dysfunctional marketing strategy that defied the concept of content coordination.
The social goal was easily defined: increase organic growth, reach, and engagement using proven social media business techniques. In the end it was a waste of their money and my time. Based on my direct experience with this dealer, I emerged with a Five-Step Program for improving your social media marketing assets.
Here are my Top Five Social Marketing Essentials: the minimum elements a social media marketing program needs in order to have any chance of success.
5) Management Engagement
This ad for snowmobiles in Florida stayed up for months.
When management is “too busy” to monitor their own content, they deserve the worst result from a dysfunctional effort. Would you expect to see snowmobiles sold in Florida? In July? This embarrassing post by the client’s CMS vendor and web site IT, a well known powersports service provider, stayed up for weeks because management refused to look at their own channels. I won’t comment on the use of transparent background PNGs against a lime green <IMG> tag background color.
Lesson? Stay engaged or risk the consequences.
4) Coordinate Activities
Social didn’t have a seat at the table when sales, promos, or events were planned by the sales manager. OEM marketing opportunities came and went without generating earned publicity. Result: a failure to connect using basic tools like page event apps to promote engagement and activity.
Further muddying the waters — multiple managers had independent control of multiple channels. Result? A total lack of content direction and coordination.
Lesson? Assign one manager as point-of-contact, with authority for all content and the option to grant multiple contributors access to team functions.
3) Understand Social Stats
Personal friends list used by greeter to prop up skewed reach.
Stats can inform or mislead. When they’re manipulated, the result can be deceptive and misleading.
Despite a favorable (chart at top) 68% male-31% female fan mix, the reach skewed heavily towards women, not men. This disconnect is traceable to flawed post content by the lobby greeter’s attempt to pad metrics by polling her personal Facebook male friends for likes. This shifted the ratio alright, but only by creating a false positive that distorts the desired organic results and won’t fool Facebook.
Lesson? Manipulated stats disguise reality, lead to bad decisions based on false facts.
2) Understand How Social Media Works
Social marketing is about pull, not push. Understanding the general strengths and weaknesses is essential.
It’s a unique medium that requires regular care and feeding in the form of professional attention. Audience engagement can’t be forced; only quality content of interest will attract interaction. Google knows this, and you should also.
Lesson? Quality content continues to be the prime ingredient in a successful social campaign.
1) Speak With One Voice
The number one requirement for a successful social marketing program? Speak professionally, using one knowledgeable voice.
The dealership’s in-house voice, a former barista turned lobby greeter with zero motorcycle knowledge and a dysfunctional writing “style”, was allowed to post disconnected content online, without review, like the incoherent example below.
“Off-roading enthusiasts love the adventures and the risks and adrenaline associated with it. Speaking with the novice portion of this crowd, one of the most commonly inquiries is, “Do you know where I can ride these?” It’s a very just question. Now a great place to cross off your bucket list is the Apalachicola National Forest. Located in the panhandle, there is 195,000 acres worth of lush, loamy nature. They conveniently have about 80% of their trails marked very well. However, it is also rumored to have many undiscovered trails with very little traffic. Yeah it’s a bit of a trip, but do ya really plan on staying at home for the rest of your life?”
I rest my case. Lesson? Social programs too often see Nike’s success selling shoes as an easily copied meme. Reality? Without professional creative talent efforts aren’t just wasted, they’re counterproductive.
Growing Your Social Channel – A Job for Professionals
Don’t be this dealer. Commit to using the power and prestige of social media. Make it count. Engage your qualified market, enjoy the benefits of a comfortable public relationship.
Armano is Edelman PR’s widely followed social guru, operating out of their Chicago office where he spreads knowledge and opinion across the twitter/facebook/linkedin universe. A July post, for instance, presented the case for Google Plus in an extended essay piece that positions the new service as a layer, rather than a channel, then goes on to count the degrees of difference.
so many channels; really, so many channels
But regardless of worthiness, for me it’s yet one more dedicated channel to tend in a garden of tasty greenery run amok. For the small shop and independent practitioner, your fulltime job can easily become a sideline to the babysitting necessary for even basic online maintenance. The connect options presented on their Edelman Digital space (above) include RSS, email, Scribd, SlideShare, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr channels: and that’s just the tip of their social channel spear.
Whether you define social media as the 20th century spanned by two phones hooked together by copper wire or a bluetooth keyboard tapping out a tweet that ends up as smart phone text in the 21st, success with the medium begins with understanding the process.
Social Fresh Attendance by Category
Which is exactly where Social Fresh has landed on the map of the Continental United States. I was able to gain critical insight from some of the best in the business when Tampa played host to their multi-stop tour in February, promoted across the social media spectrum by founder Jason Keath (@jasonkeath) as the answer to marketers in various “underserved cities” wailing at the “How does all this stuff work?” wall of confusion.
The 1-2 day conference objectives are teaching marketeers – ad shops, pr firms, corporate communication staffers, philanthropic agencies – first the basics, then expanded specifics of invoking social media in its various forms. Facebook and twitter first, augmented by late breaking news in the app and cloudware departments later.
more than who had what for lunch
The chart above shows the typical conference breakdown of attendees by channel, and is indicitive of the broad interest among corporations, marketeers, government, non-profits and others in learning how social media communication strategies can be applied across markets. Social Fresh brings in a full slate of new media stars to shine in a venue that’s part camp meeting, part Mary Kay convention, where they’re free to serve up advice and instruction on the best ways for an audience of mostly pilgrams to navigate a landscape where there’s still no road map. It’s a job for experts, and Social Fresh delivers.
You can view more on the evolution of social media here.