Who thought five years ago that our parents would be adopting Facebook? And that they would be “pushing” future decision makers to Instagram and Snapchat, where the latter today are coordinating their entire social life.
In this piece I argue that, what we ccurrently call “social media” is today’s way of communicating, interacting with friends, family and business associates, and buying. And that it should not be considered a playing ground for the marketing intern.
Sure, there are many issues with social media today. The pressure to appear successful and interesting. The perceived informality of relationships, the illusion of closeness. The fake news. The trolling. Our friends and children spending hours on the mobile phone, and half of that on social apps. These issues are real and they need to be addressed.
The key point is that social media is here to stay and that it enjoys unparalleled adoption and attention across the globe, from teenagers to young professionals and increasingly retired people of all social segments and purchasing powers. And without attention there is no marketing, and no sales.
If you hate being an early mover on such things, don’t worry. You are not. On the contrary. Being late in this game might come at an opportunity cost. Regaining share of mind already taken by your competitors will become more expensive over time.
Until recently, getting your story out globally required a budget that only multinational companies could afford. And, to paraphrase David Ogilvy, one of the legends of advertising, they did not know which 50% of that budget they had wasted. As traditional channels like advertising, direct mail, event marketing and the like experience diminishing returns, their budgets get slashed.
In this new reality, being able to target your ideal customer for a fraction of the cost of traditional approaches is the greatest equalizer for brand development and marketing that has ever existed. It truly favors the small, entrepreneurial firms, because it allows them to try, assess, learn and fine-tune their approach until the right message resonates with their audience. It is the equivalent of an investment professional enetting into a trade. Depending on the direction it goes, one can quickly and efficiently scale it up, or exit and reallocate to other opportunities with a more favorable risk reward profile.
Successful social media activity will not only drive traffic to the corporate website, and, hopefully, from there feed leads into the sales pipeline. Increasingly, social media activity is used to generate leads directly. And because it is contextual and conversational in nature (as opposed to the traditional broadcasting of advertising slogans) it forms the basis for a professional relationship that is just about as good, if not more informed, than the one that was started at an industry event.
Will the current social media apps be around in 5 years? While it has become fashionable to predict their future in social conversation, the answer to this question is remarkably irrelevant from an operator’s perspective. If you can capture the attention of those people who are directly or indirectly involved in the buying decision.
And if effectively reaching our audience tomorrow becomes underpriced somewhere else, then we go there. Like a trader, who does care less about being right than being profitable.