Monday, 26 May 2014

My Four-Point Advice to Struggling Social Media Marketers

Me previously:
Boss: What is CPC?
I: Cost per thousand impressions.
B: Yes, but what does that mean?
I: The cost of showing an ad online a thousand times
B: Hmm….ya, but then what is this figure?
I: It is the CPC
B stares back, for a long time.
I, fumbling: Er. Hmm. Let me do some more research and get back to you, ok?

Me today:
B stares back, for a long time.
I, exasperated: You know what, this is all there is to it. Seriously. Go read up.

Yes, I just confessed.

A year ago, I was a reluctant, under-confident digital marketer. As an independent MarComm Consultant, I was under tremendous pressure to deliver, among a suite of other things – social media marketing solutions. It was a skirmish that turned bloody. I felt foolish, outdated and out-of-trend, and started undermining and underselling my other strengths. Very soon, I stopped taking on projects that had a SMM component on it.
But I just had an unexpected a-ha weekend. I attended a SMM workshop led by an ex-Facebooker and an ex-Googler. It was a good workshop, but the biggest favour it did to me was to make me realize that I did know a lot about SMM. It built my confidence, but also made me realize a few things.

1.     1.   Everyone is winging it
Despite the chatter and the gyaan and the fancy resumes floating around on social media marketing, trust me, everyone is just winging it. To begin with, the rules of online channels are ever-changing. The literature around SMM is still underdeveloped and there are just not enough case studies, for both successes and failures. So in the end, everyone’s just experimenting with their strategies, hoping for the best.

2.       2. Your boss is posturing
If your boss/ client is not a digital marketer, more often than not, he doesn’t know anything about SMM. Don’t be fooled by his posturing. Let him know that he doesn’t know. If nothing else, this will help you manage his expectations. He most likely has a facebook profile with 800 friends, out of which at least 300 have liked his latest picture of him having breakfast. He expects a similar response on his business page too. Let him know it won’t happen.

3. Online platforms are free, but don’t work without money
Don’t play if there is no money in it – It’s no fun. One, or perhaps the only reason, my SMM strategies didn’t work for my previous client was because he insisted on zero-budget campaigns. Despite being in the much crowded e-commerce space. Despite being B2C. Despite having built a mobile app for youngsters.
Your strategies will work only if you incentivize. No one’s buying if you don’t give them a discount or a freebie. Even Starbucks tempts and woos on their Facebook page. And if you don’t advertise, only 3% of your fans are going to see the updates you put on your FB business page.

4.       4. Workshops are good enough
In the middle of my depressing SMM fling, I considered dumping my decade+ years of experience as a communicator to intern at a digital marketing startup. Or taking a break and doing a communication course all over again. Both were bad ideas and I am glad I didn’t do it. A weekend workshop is enough to get you started on SMM. Just pick up the tools and practice your creativity, talent and instinct on them as you go along.  

Agree/ Disagree? Have more insights to share? I would love to hear from you.