This might be unexpected advice coming from an agency’s lead representative for social media, but the truth is that social media will not save your marketing program.
With my mind on the approaching start of spring training, here’s an analogy: The pitcher is one of the most important members of a baseball team, but pitching alone can’t carry a team to the World Series. The same is true for social media. Marketing is a team sport, and social media is just one player.
Yes, I understand—and I advocate daily—that social media can be a powerful communication tool and that it has prompted a sea change in how we communicate. So did the printing press, the radio, the TV, the Internet. There will always be game changers.
A winning marketing program is integrated; it includes the best combination of channels and tactics, and although social media may be the newest kid on the communications block, the basics of good marketing still apply.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Social media is not a strategy.
Clients often ask, “What’s our social media strategy?” Though I understand what they’re asking, the preface to the response is that we don’t consider social media a strategy in and of itself. Social media comprises channels that need their own best practices applied to them. Ours is a marketing strategy. How and why we use social media (or other PR tactics) all play into meeting the overall strategic framework.
Social media should not be a silo.
“If you build it, they will come” is a dangerous approach to embarking on a social media marketing effort. Consider the realities of Facebook: There are 800 million users, and Social Baker
indexes almost 1.5 million Facebook pages. That is a tremendous amount of information fed to and from an incredibly large, diverse audience.
Consider further that the vast majority of people who “like” your page don’t return to the page to get your updates. They get them through their news feeds, and only some of the news you post is reaching those feeds.
This isn’t meant to discourage. Social media marketing can have a positive impact on your marketing efforts, but you need to make your programs holistic. Support online efforts offline—with visual reminders and links to your social channels on signage and in advertising. Use email marketing to drive social participation. Just as you wouldn’t put all your eggs in the TV advertising basket, don’t expect social media marketing to do it all.
Social is not all about marketing.
Last fall, Harvard Business Review
published a great piece on social media’s being much more than marketing or technology. It’s one of the reasons I tend to be adamant about using the term social media marketing—and not just social media. The uses for social media go beyond the marketing realm: It is changing the way we collaborate with internal teams, gather customer insights and research and development, and conduct customer service.
It’s an exciting time to be in PR and marketing, and social media marketing is an exciting arena in which to work. But without traditional best practices, it won’t be your savior.
Candace McCaffery is the chief strategy officer and director of interactive and social media marketing services at Cookerly Public Relations. Follow Candace on Twitter @candacemcc.