Are You Flubbing Social Media 101?
In the future, there won’t be traditional social media managers. I know this is a controversial stance, but hear me out. According to the experts, 2011 was the year of social media. 2012 was the year of content marketing. And 2013? In the words of Marketo’s head social media strategist Jason Miller, this is the year where the two factors converge.
Will there be social media managers in the future? Unless 1.11 billion people around the world decide to quit Facebook in unison, there most certainly will. However, a typical social media professional’s role won’t look too much like it does now—i.e. insulated from the larger marketing team. While 81% of companies are taking steps to integrate their inbound marketing strategies with organizational goals, social media management simply can’t be a standalone form of outreach, and here’s why:
1. Content Won’t Get Read Without Social
We’re living in an era of information obesity. It’s why the Library of Congress can’t keep up with archiving 170 billion+ Tweets, and it’s also why content curation is increasingly critical. Way back in 2007, Rohit Bhargava predicted that we were headed towards a more social web. Can Google continue to accurately rank the 2 million blog posts published every 24 hours? Perhaps not, which is why we’re seeing an integration of social and search; Facebook’s graph search and Google authorship. Regardless, your content won’t get read unless it’s distributed to an audience on social media that wants to hear what you have to say. Social media and content marketing teams need to work in tandem.
2. Brand Tone Matters
Talk of brand personality is often vilified as flaky, but a consistent brand image matters more than you think. If your written and visual communications with customers aren’t well-defined, you’ll struggle to present a front that’s memorable. Microsoft’s Andrew Spooner even believes that “tone of voice across your brand communications is as important as visual identity.” And you’d never create a logo in Paint, or allow a web developer free range over your corporate identity, would you?
It’s easy to think of examples of brands with a well-defined tone, and it’s even easier to love them for it. The content on every college student’s browser homepage, GrubHub, is friendly and humorous. AppSumo is like your personal, extreme cheerleader. Say all you want about how useless branding is, but people don’t buy product from people with such an ill-defined tone, because they can’t remember who they are.
3. There’s a Metric Ton of People on Social
No kidding, right? Even though it would be wondrous if each of the more than 1 billion social media users around the world became a customer of your company, it’s probably not going to happen. Instead, it’s in your best interest to focus on prospects who match your buyer persona profiles, the sketches of your ideal customers. Social will be a much less effective tool for prospecting and lead nurturing if social media managers are going after people who lack budget, authority, need, or the right timeline to purchase.
4. Social Demands Expertise
“Oh, I just bought this new car from some guy on Twitter who didn’t know the answer to my question about its fuel efficiency,” said no consumer ever. Honestly, what is the point of an inbound marketing strategy in the first place? It’s to position yourself as an expert in an increasingly noisy world. Obnoxious and pervasive outbound marketing has resulted in a generation of jaded consumers, who choose Google, Facebook, and blogs for product research instead of television commercials. Your social media managers need to know enough about your industry to answer customer questions, or even better, join discussions, at the drop of a Tweet.
5. It’s Just Better that Way
No boss in the world likes pouring money into things that don’t work. While social media has one of the highest visit-to-lead conversion rates among any marketing platform, you can’t drive sales without content, a website, offers, and a lead nurturing strategy. As HubSpot’s CMO Mike Volpe puts it, “successful inbound execution requires a strategic change in how you focus your end-to-end marketing practices.” When it comes to digital marketing, everything your mother ever told you about teamwork was right—you won’t get far without it.
There’s nothing quick and easy about social media, except for how fast information on Twitter moves. That being said, I stand by my prediction that we’ll see some dramatic changes in the profession in the months to come. Social media managers in the future will be talented professionals with the ability to seamlessly blend social, strategy, content, and lead nurturing.