This ain't your granny's marketing

3 questions to help you maximize your social media marketing

A lot of people are treating social media marketing exactly like every other type of marketing. They think that if they put an ad on a social media platform, people will just show up. “If you build it, they will come” and all that. But you’re not Kevin Costner, and this ain’t your granny’s marketing.

There’s a weird combination of factors here. There’s no doubt that advertising on social media can be both powerful and effective, especially given that’s where people spend a lot of time. On the other hand, ads on social media risk leaving the user with a negative impression of the brand. So more ads might mean greater reach, but too many ads equals unhappy users. 

How do you find the balance? Where’s the line between getting noticed and making people angry? You can start by asking yourself the following questions:

Why are you here?

This question comes in two parts: What do users actually do on this social media platform, and why are you trying to reach them this way? Your answers to these questions should sync up with each other.

Each social media platform has something that makes it stand out from the rest. Some are more about personal connections and sharing experiences, while others trend toward video content or even discussing current events and personal beliefs. 

The point I’m making here is that there is no social media platform where people go to look at ads. You need to understand why your target audience is here and what they’re doing. Then you need to answer the second question: Why are YOU here?

The answer might be as simple as, “well they’re here and I’m trying to reach them.” In fact, that’s almost certainly the best way to start. You shouldn’t be marketing to people that aren’t there to get the message.

But here’s where these questions come together. Once you know what people actually want to do on this platform, can you reach them by doing that? Do your goals match the platform’s purpose?

In other words…

What kinds of content are you making?

There’s no way around it: ads on social media are an intrusion on the user’s experience. If people are online to watch funny cat videos, then your ad is just an inconvenience. That’s not the user’s fault. It’s your job to make sure the content you’re providing fits the platform your audience prefers.

A good phrase to focus on is the “added value” of the content you’re posting. Did you offer the user anything other than an ad? What’s in it for them? Does your content fit the culture of the community they’re building? Boring, run-of-the-mill, or tone-deaf content gets skipped, or worse, unfollowed.

Finally, it’s always worth asking yourself…

Could you be doing something else?

This question also comes with two meanings. It’s certainly possible that some social media platforms are a waste of your time and precious marketing budget. If there’s no audience then there’s no point, and if the audience is toxic you should wash your hands of them. But there’s also another idea here.

You need to consider that not all social media marketing has to be advertisements. There are some really great examples out there of brands who found huge marketing success by doing something completely different. You may not have the same size budget, but you can try something new. You might find that the best advertising for your brand happens when you stop trying to post ads.

If the platform your audience prefers is driven by engagement, then you need to engage. So, once you find your audience and you learn how the platform works, the next step is to listen to what they’re doing. Then, start getting involved. Repost their interests, retweet your tweeters, and see if you can start winning just by playing along. 

Sam Dicken

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