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Social Experts or Snake Oil Salesmen?

We’ve received quite a few emails about our Facebook blogs, so we wanted to expand upon some of those thoughts. Please feel free to comment or send us an email about your thoughts.

The fact is Facebook is a 500 pound “Gorilla” and most people know of it or have an account. So essentially, it becomes the easiest target for companies and brands to focus on. The job of “social media manager” is one of the fastest growing new job postings. University of Southern California is even offering courses and degrees focused on this new phenomenon. Agencies all over are working overtime to create new divisions focusing on social media. Pretty much every brand has a social media “expert” to assist them in this new world of social media.

The “affiliate marketing” experts are now touting their social selling skills and as this new market emerges, the so called experts seem to be more like job seeking opportunists rather then social media experts.

This group of newly employed “experts” continue to spout off about engagement on third party social platforms like Facebook as if they are Mark Zuckerberg’s first cousins. They are the same ‘experts’ that lead brands to the social graveyard called Myspace.com. They claim that these engagements are meaningful and encourage these brands to spend their hard earned money to help promote a third party application. Billions of dollars are being spent to gain a “like” and resulting in tons of free exposure for the brands like Facebook. Where is the ROI? They are merely telling brands what the brands already know (that Facebook is popular) and that social media marketing is an emerging but necessary market.

As we have discussed in our previous blogs, people (the brands target consumer) use social networking and specifically sites like Facebook to connect with friends. There was a time when you could not even join without a connection within the network. Now that it has grown, the brands and their experts see Facebook as the holy grail of social media marketing.

Facebook is essentially web 2.0’s version of email You do not need to send emails through email clients. You can share, connect or find your friends, colleagues and family. It is an easy way to stay connected and communicate with the people you want to connect with. No email address changes or loosing the phone number. Just type in their name and Facebook will give you numerous ways to connect. Most consumers do not seek to have these kinds of relationships with brands. They are interested in brands providing them content, information, contests and so on, but a meaningful friendship is not what they are after. If you are a brand and not an athlete or celebrity, the actual engagement ration on Facebook for brands is close to zero percent.

People aren’t involved with most brands’ fan pages, even though on a daily basis a large percentage of them are involved in connecting with the brand. The problem is the “real” engagements and the feedback provided is normally one directional. This is not engagement, but more like a new form of email spam. When the engagement is real Facebook provides no real way to engage the users back. Ultimately, what little success you will find can backfire. The consumer will feel ignored.

People tend to forgive the celebrities for the lack of response. The celebrities tend to be forgiven based on the sheer number of fans they have commenting. It would be humanly impossible to engage with 50 Cent’s 12,000,000 Facebook fans. He offers his hard core fans his own unique social network that has over 540,000 active members (www.thisis50.com). To me, this group is far more valuable to 50 and his endorsed brands. He can directly communicate back and forth with his fans. The engagements are real. He can monetize thisis50.com and owns it rather then being a passive participant on Facebook.

There are too many people and groups on Facebook and making lasting and meaningful engagements is next to impossible. Facebook and sites like it offer the users of the site a tremendous platform to stay connected and communicate. It just does not mean that all of its users will “like” you or even be your target consumer. Social media is like having clovers in your lawn. They look cool and you hope to find a four leaf clover but they are not necessarily good for your lawn.

I always try to get our clients to visualize social media as a virtual social gathering. If you had a gathering with 12,000,000 people, it would be chaos. Even 500,000 could be chaotic so brands have to remember that they are going to be at the center of the conversation. So building your network needs to be balanced with feeding your network content and meaningful engagements.
Brands should, however, focus on Facebook advertising. The cost to advertise on Facebook is very affordable and very effective. Since Facebook revolves around socializing, those conversations create the ability to target conversations and interest. Facebook users tend to list their likes and dislikes and Facebook advertising can effectively help you find your target consumer. Targeting is the smartest ad expenditure brands can make. Niche advertising networks like MMAAdnet.com are one solution; contextual based targeting is another. Each are very effective and remove a lot of the mystery involved when advertising on or off line.

Brands SHOULD have a page or at least a group or two established on sites like Facebook. They should use these platforms to help find and potentially extract this consumer from being a passive friend to a truly engaged consumer. At the very least, Facebook and third party social media platforms offer “free advertising” for brands.

Build a realistic plan, assign realistic goals and go. If you are using it correctly, social media will tell you where to go and what to do. You have to listen to the consumer. If your expert has advised you to focus solely on Facebook and suggests hiring staff to manage the comments and tell you what you should be sharing, you might need a new expert. There is no magic to social media marketing. It is about engagements and providing feedback in a timely manner.

You can have your own thisis50.com style site with an iPhone app for under $5000. You and your team can manage this and all of your social platforms through your cellphones and desk top. I guarantee you it is not Weird Science or even Sixteen Candles. It is just communication with the very person you are willing to spend tons of money to understand what they like and want. Save your money and time and just ask them.

Jason Genet

IngrainedMedia.com

One response

  1. Pingback: Facebook Changes and How They Affect Things You Like « Ingrained Media, Inc.

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