So, unless you've been living under a rock and you have absolutely no clue who I am, you should know that I'm a social marketer. But not in the traditional sense - and I find myself saying this quite a bit...so we need to delve into social media: what it is, what it is perceived to be, and what it isn't in terms of what I do.
I came across an article that talked about the do's and don'ts of Twitter. Of course, that's nothing new. If you hang around sites like Mashable or MediaPost, you'll see a number of "do this - not that" articles as it pertains to social media. But here's the real deal - there's no perfect answer. Social media is an ever changing field, I liken it to some fabled game that children come up with at the beginning of the Summer. As the Summer progresses, the rules, objects and final outcome end up being something entirely different than what was intended when the Summer began.
First of all, don't get caught up in the hype, social media has been around for years. As soon as AOL and Prodigy burst onto the scene, and showed people what a chat room and discussion board was, that was the TRUE birth of social media - not Facebook (sorry guys), not Myspace, etc. People were able to quickly exchange ideas with each other in a virtual world without having to have prior history to the receivers on the other end. Fast forward a few decades, and those old school forums and chat rooms have morphed into something more state of the art. With the advances in mobile technology and Internet speeds, our dependence on the Internet (whether from a home computer or our mobile phones) increased dramatically. And the reigns of control definitely shifted. It used to be the marketer's responsibility to not only determine the ideal demographic for a message, but to create and control the spread of that message.
As technology advanced, and the consumer realized how easy it was to add their two cents, the consumer's opinion of all content became extremely important. In fact, it became so important that marketers began to realize that they could actually rely on the consumer to carry the message farther for them by building trust and aligning their brands with early adopter and influential consumers. THIS IS SOCIAL MEDIA.
Social media is not sitting on Facebook/Myspace/Twitter like a tool and sending 10,000 updates every day which are neither relevant nor interesting to a target market (if these people even bother to define their market before they launch a "campaign" if it can be called that). And this is the mis-represented form of social media that I hate because people assume that this is what I do all day.
So, I'm a social marketer because I use the same mediums that consumers use to "hang out for fun" (Internet, mobile and TV) to promote my clients' products. But I do not spend all day sending pointless updates on Facebook/Twitter/etc. I focus on entertainment content, whether that's music, film, episodic shows, animations, etc. As long as it's original, I can promote it which I do very well! I partner with entertainment aggregation firms that act as platforms where consumers regularly visit to learn about what's new in the market (this translates into sales). Unlike Facebook, where it's easy for fly by night marketing firms to fake hits/traffic, the companies I partner with actually can verify that traffic, prevent bot attacks or large amounts of erroneous traffic. How can I stand by this claim? Because the same stats that I use to prove the traffic that my clients are getting are the same stats these companies need to use to substantiate their rates to advertisers or to pay out on revenue share agreements they have with my clients. So, faulty stats equals paying on fraudulent activity or losing advertisers because of excessive fraud.
But to get back to the deal on social media, when I do post to Facebook, Twitter, etc...it's to link back to my serious partnerships. Always link fluff with something concrete. If you have a magazine interview link, by all means, post it on Facebook! Give people a reason to really read your posts, don't just push junk at them. And likewise, have something of substance to substantiate your attempts at social media. Because to serious firms, telling them that you have 20,000 Twitter followers or hits on your track on Myspace, it sounds like a joke. Real marketers know that those numbers can be easily bought, so you're not instilling confidence in people when you boast about empty numbers like that.
And the final goal of social media is to humanize your brand. So, most importantly, don't just act like a robot and only post about work related items. If that's what you're doing, then don't be surprised if you don't get much traction from your work. People love to see you being productive, but they want to know that you're human too. Let people know that you have a life outside of work, even if it's through responses to posts on your board or a few random commentaries about things you see or experience in daily life. You'll be amazed how some of those "pointless" posts will actually encourage others to follow you or promote your content even further than your network.