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Interruption Marketing vs. Social Media
I know this may seem impossible in 2011, but I discover many companies that do not yet fully appreciate the value of social media and the long-term equity it can build for their business.
A lot of companies understand the value of their brand being visible in many places online, and some will understand the value of those people who help to grow its visibility. Only a relatively few actually look forward beyond the horizon to understand the greater value that social media represents over an extended time.
When I hear people say things like “we just don’t have time for all of that” or worse, “we don’t have the staff for that”, it always leaves me shaking my head. It reminds me why only a small percentage of businesses account for the lion’s share of their market. It is explained well by Joseph Juran’s well documented “Pareto Principle” named for Vilfredo Pareto. Many people know the Pareto Principle as the 80/20 Rule.
Consider the Interruption of Marketing
Think as a consumer for a moment, and consider the way you shut down to marketing. Think about how your brain just goes in another direction when companies interrupt you with their marketing and try to sell you stuff. We are each inundated by a constant barrage of commercial information about everything from A to Z in our daily lives. This is why we fast-forward through commercials on television, we screen our telephone calls, and we are seasoned to ignore advertisements on websites.
Interruption Marketing Train Coming Through
Unless you are really tired and vulnerable, you probably don’t stay tuned to that late night infomercial about something you really never knew you needed. Although, I can almost bet that you can remember a time when you thought “why in the hell am I still watching this?” Perhaps you can even remember thinking “Holy crap … I was about three seconds from picking up the phone to buy one of those” or even “Damn, I bought this … why did I buy this?!” It happens, and we each have our weaknesses, but let’s face it, we are far better adapted to turning away from all the hype. Otherwise, if marketers had their way, you would own one of everything, and you would have worthless crap in every nook and cranny, and stacked to your ceiling.
For the most part, we consumers make efforts to avoid these awkward moments which compel us to buy things. Why? Maybe it is just because, deep down, we hate saying “no”. If we can avoid the pitch, we can avoid wanting something, and thus, avoid saying “no” to our own urges, and the urges of those squillion salespeople out there.
Maybe you are different, and you enjoy that marketing interruption, but in that case, you are not like most people. I am addressing most people.
Marketing Got Sneakier With Social Media
Since there was so much information out there interrupting our days and nights, as a collective group, consumers became more cautious. We decided to make companies earn our business. Of course, the economy of the past few years has helped this along faster than ever. The timing was perfect for social media marketing to explode like a shot from a gun.
Maybe you like it, or maybe you don’t, but let’s face it, marketing got a whole lot sneakier. It became more targeted, and marketers became better spies. Effective marketing today utilizes more information, better strategies, and just a bit of James Bond 007-style of thinking.
Marketing Became Targeted and Marketers Became Better Spies
As consumers, we became more cautious and protective of ourselves. We got really smart and created clever ways to filter our television ad consumption, filter our email, and filter our social media.
In order to effectively reach us consumers, marketers have been forced to provide a greater value proposition. This is a hard concept for many companies to grasp. Today’s successful companies are giving before they take, and the ones giving the most are receiving the most.
Today, people are more likely than ever to make purchasing decisions based on trust, reputation, and a good old fashioned sense that the company gives a damn about us. We have come to expect it, and whether you feel this way yet or not, it is a sweeping trend. People want to do business with people, and with brands represented by people. The world is building relationships with brands, and those relationships are worth money … a lot of money. Missing this fact is a very costly mistake.
You can consider it sneaky, or you can consider it a welcomed gift, but brands are in our lives to stay. We will always need to buy things, and we buy from the companies and the people we feel good about. When the brand is there to help us with information, and with a legitimate desire to help us make good decisions, they win, and we buy.
Shortsighted Brands Damage Their Social Media Future
A huge obstacle which gets in the way of social media marketing is time. Companies want everything, and they want it right now. It is understandable, but when companies forget the importance and value of longevity, and when they feel the breath of their competitors on the back of their neck, they can be quite irrational.
Smart Companies Have a Social Media Vision
Smart companies look far ahead into the future. Rather than take a reactive and panicked approach to a weak quarterly report, they work with an eye toward longer goals. Strong companies can look farther ahead, and that is why they succeed farther into the future. Applying this to social media marketing means doing business the right way, and not simply with the urgency of trying to force a brand down the consumer’s throat. This means doing business on the customer’s terms and timelines, and not only in a one-way company-centric method of the past. Consumers respect companies for this, and they return with even more consumers following closely behind them.
What About Social Media Marketing Equity?
I know that for some people, it is easy to look at social media as a bunch of time-wasting crazy people who believe that somehow the world’s consumers will come flocking to their front door just by using a nice, soft approach and patting everybody on the butt with nice words. Well, maybe yes, and maybe no, but there is a very significant value in a good reputation. Reputations do not just happen … they are built. It takes a lot of effort to build a good reputation, and it takes both words, and deeds.
Anybody in business today should understand the value of word of mouth. What people say about a company, whether good or bad, forms consumer’s perceptions of a brand. More than ever before, they are not just picking up the telephone and talking to a friend, or talking about companies at a lunch meeting. They are talking about them in large groups such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and etcetera.
Whether the perception is good or bad, they will be talking. Either outcome cannot be controlled by a company, but when a company is not involved in their own brand message, they are missing huge opportunities. Even a negative statement made in social media is an opportunity to make things better with customers, and other potential customers who are silently watching.
People really do notice what companies are doing online. I realize that for a lot of companies, this just seems impossible, and they do not have a good grasp on how to track their reputation. Just because a company does not really “get it” does not keep them out of trouble. This would be about as silly as trying to talk your way out of a speeding ticket just because you didn’t read the speed limit sign. It just doesn’t work that way.
If you feel a bit lost about the value of social media, it is time to read the signs.
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