There’s a disconnect between how marketers use social media for clients and how marketers use social media personally.
“We want to be thought leaders,” their brands say. So, many marketers publish articles many times a day, not bothering to monitor as much as they should or interact when they should or seek out users how they should.
Then, these same marketers are befuddled when their clients’ accounts don’t get any interaction. “It’s okay,” they say. “We’ve gotten our clients a lot of impressions, and that’s what matters for thought leadership.”
Let’s cut the bullshit. A lot of us marketers are marketing to/for a world that doesn’t exist.
You don’t have to look far to figure out just how true this is. I can count on one hand (one finger, actually) how many times I’ve sought out brands and interacted with them, unsolicited. I use my Twitter feed to read what friends are saying, shoot quick messages back and forth, and publish things I think are interesting. Once—one time—have I ever sought out a brand. And then it was only because my glasses were broken and I needed a replacement.
Search your feed for marketers you know, and you’re likely to find a similar story. Many marketers’ clients have one-way feeds with little interaction and even less excitement. The marketers’ feeds themselves, though, are full of interaction and conversation.
Why, then, do so many of us continue to advocate that our clients use social media in a way that’s setting them up for failure?
Instead of marketing to this world that doesn’t exist, maybe we should think about how actual people use social media. Maybe we should seek out customers and talk with them on behalf of our brand. Maybe we should use social media to research consumers in the same way consumers use social media to research brands. Maybe we should be more strategic and empathetic, and tie our work to real people rather than people who may or may not exist. Maybe we should realize that the first word in social media is social.
I won’t pretend like our company has never been guilty of this—we have. We’re working every day to find new ways to use social media for our clients. What I can say is that I know how all of us in the office use social media for ourselves—and it’s a hell of a lot different than the expectations many companies have about how they should use social media.
It’s time to stop the brand double standard. Social media is a two-way street. Use social media like real people use social media, or risk falling behind.
Some days John Darwin loves thought leadership, and other days he hates it. He’s Managing Editor at Social Media Contractors. He graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where he earned his B.A. in English, specializing in British Literature.
Image Credit: CC by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann