The Implied Participation of Social Media


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If you’re new to social media marketing, you might feel like you’re a little late to the game. In a sense, if you are new, you are a little late. However, fear not, there are some who have actually been slogging through social media so long without any discernible results that they might as well have started yesterday. What is the reality? There is not much of a difference between you and them.

Two questions come to mind however. Why in 2011 have some waited this long to do anything with social media? And why does mediocrity prevail for those marketers that have been doing it awhile? For the novice and the advanced user, the similarities abound. Both feel the world of social media is moving incredibly fast. Too fast it seems. It’s why the beginners have waited and it’s a great excuse for those marketers that have been coming up short. In fact the excuses might look something like this: I won’t be able to keep up, there’s no time, why bother, why continue, it doesn’t work, our customers don’t use it, there is no point, what’s the point? Or gasp, you can’t measure it and there’s no ROI! The collective belief being that maybe, just maybe, social media is temporary.

In either camp you could almost say that you’re waiting for things to become so simplified that participation will be as implied as Google’s home page. Enter a word, click a button, get a result. Good luck with that.

Funny thing though, it really doesn’t matter what your background is in 2011. It’s implied that you’re either in a social network and or you know what to do once you’re in a social network. Wow, that’s terribly assumptive isn’t it?

In today’s Uber connected world it’s easy to be intimidated or influenced into participation in social media just based on the notion that a) Facebook has almost 600 million active users and you need to tap into that or b) Your customers are on Facebook and Twitter and you’re not. You feel you must be there. Whether kicking and scratching or willingly, you’re being pulled into the vortex of social media-whether you know what you’re doing or not.

Did you know that when you go to Google’s search page and type in, “How do I use…” that one of the first results that show up in the search drop down box is, “How do I use Twitter and Facebook?” Which means that the phenomena of social networks has definitely peaked our collective interest as marketers and yet we are still not quite sure how to us social to sell or market our stuff-What do we do? How do we use it? How does it work?

Unfortunately there is not enough room here to really answer the above questions at length, but those types of questions are still coming from two familiar groups of people. That’s right, the novices and the advanced users, and all groups in between. The queries are emanating just as much from the small business owner wearing the marketing hat as the CMO charged with managing the Fortune 100. Though the surface level questions still revolve pretty heavily around the how’s and the why’s-The deeper question still might be-Why is there still a big disconnect or gap in social media adoption in 2011?

You might not think there is a gap because you might be the atypical user both from a marketing perspective and a consumer level. In fact some of you might think that things are evolving at a pretty normal pace- and they are, for you; but there are still a lot of segments of our society and business world that are lagging behind in social media knowledge, usage, experience, and adoption. Why is that?

Culture and cultures. All of your customers are wired differently. Not all of them are always sitting in front of computers tweeting, downloading coupons, friending brands and buying stuff through Groupon and Livingsocial. Thus the types of usage, consumers, and networks that abound are as diverse as the people that live in one square block in SoHo.. What makes us different makes us unique. What makes this world the way it is? Our personalities, our backgrounds, our heritage, our family, our tribes…Our cultures. Social media and social networks are no different, they are just online digital extensions of our offline lives and the spaces that we play and work in. So why the difficulty in adoption and usage? It’s implied we know what we are doing and what they want. It is assumed we know how to market to “them” because we know how to use social. I say Ha!

Do you remember back in grade school in PE class when it was demanded/expected that everyone would participate in dodge ball or kickball? Was everyone capable of playing at the same level? Did everyone want to play or participate? Did everyone know the rules? In some cases kids were forced to play right? If the option was given to play or not to play, how many would have? Half? Either the coaches and PE’s teachers assumed everyone knew how to play, didn’t care, or they focused on the one’s that knew how to play. Those that didn’t know how, were left to figure it out as they went. Sound familiar? Just think if they had taken the time to teach, and or learn what they had to work with from the kids in the class!

If we’re to look at today’s social networks, Facebook is THE implied or de facto platform for social media participation and yet, there is nothing that says you’re supposed to have a Fan page for your company or product on Facebook, or that you know what you are doing. But we all drop into the funnel anyway, like lemmings. And yet there’s nothing that says you automatically know how “to be” social with your customers on Facebook either; or that success is guaranteed on Facebook. And that’s part of the problem. Lack of knowledge. The other part is that technology is waiting for users to catch up and users are waiting for technology to slow down, thus a lot of times most marketers are flying blind when it comes to using social media to sell products. They revert back to traditional forms of marketing using social tools and platforms. One way messaging with frequency.

With that said, here are 4 resources to help keep you current in today’s ever changing social sphere.

  • All Facebook http://www.allfacebook.comThe unofficial Facebook Blog
  • YourVersion http://www.yourversion.comYourVersion is a tool for delivering the latest news, blogs, tweets, and videos on content that matters to you, all in one place.
  • TechCrunch http://www.techcrunch.comTechCrunch is a real time site profiling startups, reviewing internet products and breaking tech news. I start and end my day with this site.
  • SmartBlog on Social Media A blog that daily delivers best practices, case studies & insights on social media marketing. I read it every day.

Lastly, In order for social media marketing to truly evolve, participation needs to be more fluid, connectivity less assumptive, and value all inclusive. Until then, the usage and effect of social media in the marketing mix will only be surface level.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marc Meyer
As a Digital and Social Media strategist and CEO for Digital Response Marketing Group, Marc Meyer has been able to take technology, marketing and the world of all things digital and simplify it in a way that makes sense not only for the SMB owner, but also the discerning C-suite executive of a Fortune 500 company.


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