By Dave Stevens
There’s a wonderful carnival atmosphere in London right now as people from all over the world flock to watch the extraordinary performances of athletes at the peak of their fitness striving to make years of training and commitment pay off at the Olympic Games.
Who can fail to have been inspired to see the artistry of USA gymnast Gabrielle Douglas, the diving success of China’s Qin Kai and Luo Yutong, or the convincing domination of the women’s heptathlon by Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis? Amazing feats of athleticism geared towards the maximum accumulation of points.
Social media marketing is not an Olympic sport. It is not about the accumulation of points.
But many many marketers seem to be treating it as such.
The dimensions of social media encourage marketers to see it as a game of point-scoring. Our work on www.twitter.com is focused around the number of followers we can accumulate or the number of tweets we can send out; on www.facebook.com we worry about the number of friends we can seek out; or on www.linkedin.com it’s all about the connections stupid! And all of these sites offer prominent sections counting up our successes here and inspiring us ever onward! Just as gymnastics scores are given by a panel of judges, taking into account the degree of difficulty and the quality of the execution; so marketers have the likes of www.klout.com to measure the true reach, amplification, and network impact of our efforts. We derive a score out of 100 that we train ourslves to improve. And we’ve developed industry tools like www.hootsuite.com to help to manage our performance by cleaning up non-reciprocating followers and machine gun-firing broadcast marketing messages at optimal times of the day.
I think we have this all wrong.
And the clue’s in the name. Social media. Social. There’s a reason why we distinguish the social channel from that of PR and mass advertising. For in social media, we have a tool that enables marketers to interact with customers, prospects, advocates, and critics. That’s a really precious thing. For we have something that enables us to do more than broadcast messages. Marketing should be about building relationships with people. And relationships are two-way. We can use social media to read what our audience is saying, to understand, and to respond.
And of course we need followers, friends, and connections to do that. And of course we need reach, amplification, and impact. And of course we need to schedule our messages. And all of the tools I’ve mentioned above are great ways of doing that. But they’re not the end in themselves.
The end is a relationship. And every now and again, we marketers need a prod to remember that.