I recently came across this article (I’ll link to it in a second), in which the author compares social media to sandwich making. “Just because you know how to take the bread out of the fridge,” he says, “doesn’t mean you know how to make a sandwich.”
While reading the article, Why I Will Never, Ever, Hire a Social Media Expert, I found myself thinking, “You know, he has a good point here.” In fact, the first several comments also seemed to agree. However, after reading further, I started getting into comments that disagreed, and found myself nodding to them, also.
Now, I’m not easily swayed from my thoughts and options, as anyone who knows me will tell you. What I finally realized is that I agree with both sides.
Yes, you have to know more about social media marketing than just the social media. You have to know marketing.
Yes, you have to know more about social media marketing than just marketing. You have to know social media.
Therefore, a true social media expert has to know the basics of traditional marketing as well as understand the shift (and how to use it) to social.
Is Your SMM Ham and Cheese or a Full Sub?
Real social media marketing, much like real Cheddar cheese, has a whole bunch of things going for it, which I will cover shortly. On the other hand, what many people call SMM is like American cheese – completely processed, absolutely tasteless… an automated concoction. People can tell when you’re serving up processed American cheese and calling it Cheddar.
So, what are you serving up? Or what is your social media marketing expert serving you?
The Ham and Cheese
Ask yourself these questions:
- Have you done any marketing research to find out what consumers expect/want from your company?
- Are you following a campaign, or did you simply decide to jump on the social media bandwagon?
- Do you follow up on conversations about your product?
- Do you take the time to engage people, or is your SMM all marketing and no social?
To better understand social media marketing, take out the word media. It is, in its essence, social marketing. Marketing, in and of itself, isn’t very social. To be truthful, it’s pushy; it’s forward. It’s just ham on rye.
As well, social, in and of itself, isn’t much like marketing. It’s talking to people about things other than business. It’s the opposite of “all sales all the time”. By itself, it’s just a slice of Cheddar cheese.
If you can’t figure out how to put these two together… if you have no campaign… if you do not engage with your audience in other ways besides sales talk… all you have is a ham and cheese sandwich, hold everything else.
The Full Sub
The author of the article, Peter Shankman, doesn’t hate social media – much as the link bait, rant title would have you believe. He’s well known for his radical marketing, PR, advertising, customer service and, yes, social media, tactics. In fact, Shankman is a social media expert.
So what gives?
The problem is all too many people who call themselves social media experts aren’t. As Shankman points out, many will tell you, “Well, if it’s not working, let’s just throw some more stuff at the social platforms.”
There’s no research.
There’s no plan.
There’s no consulting the marketing team.
There’s no consulting the sales team.
There’s no discussion. In other words, it’s a fly by night operation. If this is the type of social media “expert” you’re hiring, you might as well do it yourself. Why? Because anyone can hop on a social media platform and talk to people – and if there’s none of the above, that’s exactly what’s happening. Your social media “expert” is just getting online (or telling you to) and chatting.
Now, this article is, obviously, not about sandwich making. It’s really about what type of experience you’re offering your client base in the social arena.
For example, over the past several years, Level343 has grown from a copywriting company to a full SEO company. We have writers and optimizers, someone skilled in reading analytical data and so on. We expanded so we could offer a full experience to our client base. We didn’t want to hand out ham and cheese; we wanted the whole sub.
And so it should be with your social media marketing; because it takes more than just marketing, and it takes more than just social. Real social media marketing takes a whole grab bag of things.
Marketing research – Who is the client? What do they want? What do they expect? –And, where the hell are they? I’ve written before about finding your online customer base, because they aren’t always where you’d expect them to be. Shockingly enough, Twitter isn’t a viable business platform for everyone.
Consulting with traditional marketers – Traditional marketers know things that someone new to the marketing scene doesn’t. Unfortunately, many social experts tend to snub their noses at these traditional marketers – even if the traditional market has been in the business for 10 – 15 years or more. “You may know print and so on, but you don’t know social.” Some act like it’s a competition. It isn’t.
Consulting with sales – If you’re running a social campaign and spouting things like “10% off xyz product” but don’t talk to your sales team, what are they going to say to the consumer who calls in? To be frank, you need a sales individual, and not everyone can be one. It takes a certain type of person to be a “sales star”, and their kind of thinking can really help a campaign take off.
Creating a campaign – Very seldom does SMM work if a plan of action hasn’t been developed first. SMM, in and of itself, doesn’t do the dirty work of bringing people in. You have to have supporting content, links, etc.; it has to be a seamless connection between your content, SEO, offline sales, etc. Otherwise, you’re just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.
There’s more to it… actually implementing the campaign, monitoring it, measuring it to make sure you’re on track. It takes a lot to have a good social media marketing campaign and keep it running. The truth of the matter is, if your social media expert just told you to hop on Facebook and Twitter, they’re offering you a ham and cheese solution.
On the other hand, if they took the time to learn about you and your business, research the market, create a campaign and so on, you have a much better chance of giving your customer base the full sub sandwich experience.