First off, I should state at the outset I'm talking about social media from a company's perspective. So this relates to any social activity on a business Facebook page or from a Twitter page selling something or other (might be a company, might be a blogger etc.).
What do I mean by the title? Well, in two short moments I'm going to ask whether or not social media is actually just mass advertising, production line style. Is social media really that 'social' for brands or does it just provide the illusion of genuine two-way engagement?
Feeding the content monster
I'm a social media content editor (to give it the full title). This means, it's up to me to bash out content on a daily basis and present our brand to our followers. You might call this aspect of the job, 'increasing brand reputation'. The other part to this role is supposed to be generating conversation with followers. I say supposed to be because this doesn't happen. And from what I can see on many other brand Facebook pages, I'm not the only one.
Facebook wants you to pay to be seen. Of that, there is surely no longer any doubt and many marketers have bitten the bullet and factored in spend for Facebook in campaign plans and all the rest of it. Twitter, Instagram and now even Pinterest are following suit.
Unless your brand is something people will emotionally connect with or feel they have a strong opinion on, then you have to wonder what the hell you are doing spending time on Facebook or social media in general. There is no 'conversation' if there are no comments. Likes and post clicks don't count and reach is almost meaningless.
|My delightfully minimalist (free) representation of the point...|
So then I come to the notion of 'insta-advertising'. As in, using popular social networks as a mass production advertising line in order to at least keep the brand identity visible online.
Most brands/companies/employers will at some point hire the services of an agency. It could be a design agency to make glossy ads, an ad agency to sell glossy things and/or a digital agency to, em, digitise those glossy ol' things.
But for the in-house social media content editor like myself, I am to a degree, carrying out all these tasks...
Now, before I go any further I will respectfully point out that by the above sentence, I do not for a second mean I am anywhere near as skilled as the talented agency side folks. They produce great work and are often extremely hard working to make sure clients get a great service.
The fact remains, however, that the social media person has to do a bit of everything in order to 'feed the content monster', as so many bloggers put it. This means, researching, drafting and writing content plans. It means creating, multiple times daily, original graphics and artwork. And it means, monitoring, analysis and reporting all crammed in to one.
On the line
Almost like a content conveyor belt in the big content factory. Thankfully, I'm paid and treated well...and allowed water at least once a day.
The question then becomes, am I really being a social media editor or am I the Primark of the advertising world? As in, I mass produce low cost material based on populist trends while the agency (the luxury end of the scale) produces the finer bits n' bobs to dress up in for the biggie campaigns.
Again, unless you are a cool or stimulating presence on Facebook, why would someone go out of their way from chatting to their friends to instead engage in convo with a brand? Unless they have a complaint of course, in which case most folks can't wait to get online and vent!
For the majority of small to large brands using Facebook for business, it's time to get realistic. Even if you have the money to spend on paid activity or a competition to hook folk in; the conversation just isn't going to start. Instead, brands should be looking at using Facebook to judge how well thought of the company or service is.
This information can be gleaned with a combination of hard facts (link clicks, referral traffic, bounce rates and post shares) and vague assumptions (follower growth, post comments, post reach and sentiment tracking).
Ideally tarted up with some spin for the monthly report.
What do you think? Am I missing a trick somewhere? I have some ideas for the year ahead around socialising events marketing. I'd love your thoughts!