Why I Posted a Picture of a Can of Soup on My Facebook Page: Marketing Automation and the Rise of Social Media

The other night I posted a picture of a can of soup as a joke on my Facebook profile. The caption for the picture read as follows, “I don’t understand why people post pictures of what they’re making for dinner on Facebook, but have finally succumb to peer pressure and decided to participate as well. Here’s my can of soup I’m cooking.”

It got some laughs. The reality is I still don’t know why people do this, but I felt I needed to jump in and do the same in my usual sarcastic and snarky manner. Isn’t peer pressure a driving force behind why many companies get into social media in the first place?

As someone who works in B2B marketing, I deal with companies who are desperately trying to adapt to the fire hose of new technology coming to market. Whether it’s nurture marketing, social media, or content sourcing, marketers have their hands full.

Marketing automation systems, which are enjoying a period of heavy adoption, are beginning to include social tools into their core platforms – helping companies down the path of key activities such as social publishing and listening.

All of the technology available is beneficial to marketers, but adds a layer of confusion over which tools and channels to focus on. Social media, in my opinion, is the worst culprit of spreading confusion amongst marketers. I purposely read a lot of blogs and articles on a number of topics and in a completely unscientific manner, have come to the conclusion that about 30 percent of blogs and articles are nothing more than a plea to businesses to start using social media.

This constant stream of social media cheerleading does have a peer-pressure type impact on business – sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

I recently had a conversation with a chief executive (CEO) of a very traditional manufacturing company and he told me that his company was implementing a new Facebook fan page.

I asked him why he was creating a Facebook page and what kind of content he was going to post on it. Finally, I asked him what he hoped to achieve with this new social initiative. To the first part of the question, this CEO had no firm answer other than, “Because we have to.” To the question of type of content, he mentioned they would be posting pictures, news, and product announcements.

He went onto say that there was no specific goal, rather, he wanted his company too appear modern.

Somewhere along the way, the never-ending stream of social media propaganda directed toward business has managed to convince a CEO (and I suspect many others) that you need to have a social media presence. This typically includes Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

I would agree that committing to social media will produce a number of tangible and intangible benefits for a business. What is troublesome, however, is the fact that so many businesses jump into social based solely on peer pressure, not unlike my reason for posting a picture of my delicious can of soup.

My advice to this CEO and to any company that is in the beginning stages of social media marketing can be summed up in three simple social media rules to live by:

  1. If you commit, then commit all the way: I believe that social media is a marketing discipline that requires study, testing, and measurement. As such, companies should really consider hiring a dedicated person to manage their social media efforts. Without triggering an age discrimination battle, I would say my leanings are toward someone a bit younger, recently out of college, who has grown up in a world of 140 characters. 
  2. Pick a limited number of social networks and crush it: Don’t try to boil the ocean with social media efforts. Like many things in life, you start small, master what you’ve started, and move on. The four main considerations for a company are blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook (in that order).
  3. Temper expectations: Don’t expect a steady stream of leads to pour in because you’ve posted a picture of your office party on Facebook. Social media is a marathon, not a sprint, and long-term investment in time and content will produce indirect results through higher Web page rankings, visits, and leads.

Marketing automation can help clarify activities around social, and by bringing social media tools into the core marketing automation platform, the industry is taking a much needed step in the right direction.

And to all of my dedicated and loyal followers on Facebook – stay tuned for my next culinary post! A PB&J may be in the works.

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