I’m not going to lie – while I have been writing copy for what seems like forever, it wasn’t until social media came along that I felt as if my words were actually making a connection with my audience.
Direct mail and even email may be addressed to your customers, donors, members, and prospects by name, but – short of face-to-face conversations – there is nothing more powerful and promising to marketers than the opportunity to interact in real-time with someone who is genuinely interested in what they have to offer.
Social media makes it possible for brands and their proxies to connect with members of their target audience directly and instantaneously, building strong, mutually beneficial relationships that have the potential to last indefinitely.
Of course, to traditionalists, luddites, skeptics, and naysayers, social media is like the proverbial uninvited dinner guest who never leaves.
They blame it on technology or on millennials. But placing blame does not change the fact that, like it or not, social media is here to stay.
Social media is a disruptive revolutionary change to the manner in which customers and prospects are courted – one that marketers, advertisers, publishers, and PR people ignore at their own peril. There are still a surprising number of holdouts – people who are desperately clinging to old strategies, tactics, and channels like life buoys on an open sea, afraid they will drown in today’s new marketing waters.
What they’re doing to attract and retain business may work for them today, but chances are that very same business will fade away soon if they don’t adjust to the times.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are not just new marketing channels at the disposal of the corporate world; they are outrageously popular social media properties that our industry shares with the general public. The playing field is level and the competition is fierce, as it is no longer simply paid media we’re talking about, but owned and earned as well.
As the late, great Marshall McLuhan said more than 50 years ago, “The medium is the message.” Given the ubiquity of social media, never mind the mass appeal of television and radio, those words still ring true today – perhaps more than ever.
Thus far, social media has become the message of the millennium. It has changed everything about how we communicate with relatives and friends, fans and followers, customers and colleagues, even complete strangers.
Yet many brands – B2B and B2C alike – are still fiddling and diddling when it comes to social media or – even scarier – aren’t using it at all. By believing the jury is still out on whether or not it’s worth the time, they’re missing the opportunity to join the biggest revolution in communication since the printing press.
I hate to break it to those who remain on the fence or completely apprehensive about the value of social channels, but this is not the time for hesitation. Seriously, we’re closer than you think to a turning point in social media. You’re either all in with it now, or at risk of falling alarmingly far behind the competition.
For brands that are still dabbling in social media but are not fully on board yet, consider doubling down on your investment:
- Have a team to have at your beck and call. You shouldn’t rely on only one person for all your social media activities.
- Think strategy, and not tactics. Don’t just put anything out there to see what sticks.
- Create content that not only positively endorses your products and services, but also puts your people in a positive light as well.
- Make a commitment to the long haul. Be on the grid every single day, as opposed to every once in a while.
- Keep it real. Be yourself.
Brands that haven’t even begun to establish themselves on social media have no time to lose:
- Learn from the activities of your competitors who have beaten you to the punch in setting up shop on social.
- Learn from the activities of your customers.
- Announce your presence.
- Build your audience.
- Engage with your audience: publish, post, broadcast, and Tweet.
Take whatever steps are necessary now to connect with your constituents online. Convert them into believers in everything you have to share before it’s too late. If you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind, and if you’re out of mind – well – you could be out of business. So hang your own shingle on all the major channels today.
Article images via Flickr.