Facebook and Twitter are the monoliths of social networking, and whilst they are certainly important, they are not the be all and end all of a social media strategy.
I often get social media strategies sent to me by clients from their ad/digital agencies for a sanity check. The thin veneer of nothingness that hangs together on a Facebook page and Twitter channel plan, which will not deliver, often surprises me. I am not sure if it is sheer laziness, or if it is just their poor knowledge of social media.
Social media is more psychology than it is a channel play. It is underpinned by the way we want to connect to each other. How we want to seek knowledge, information, referral and common interest groups. As we seamlessly move from online spaces to offline spaces, as consumers, we go about our lives collaborating naturally and sharing – regardless of the channel or brand.
I have seen Facebook explode in some communities, but it is the communities on Facebook, not Facebook itself – and in many instances not brands – that are driving the engagement, the referrals, and the connections. Facebook purely facilitates it.
Forums, discussion boards and online community sites, are alive with chatter and opinion, recommendation and referral, but where is that in the social media plan?
Social media networking by its nature is complex. It is a web of connected people, worlds, and interest groups often hidden in niche pockets; whether by locality, specific demographic of the networked users, or by specific interest. It is not enough to establish a Facebook page or a Twitter account and say, ‘We do social media.’
The art of social media strategies lies within the holy grail of “engagement,” which is a “people strategy” – not a marketing plan. If you don’t have engagement in the first place – and lots of organisations don’t – you need to source where the engagement is happening, where the network is, not just establish a page on Facebook or Twitter.
Discovering the hidden subtleties of how the network is being used is crucial. Finding how groups of people are connecting within the wider ecosystem of other communities in social spaces is critical to understanding the nature of social media.
It is at the crossing point of a matrix of a social media ecosystem: from a blog, to a Facebook page, to a Twitter account, to forums, to online communities, to Medium or to Reddit – whatever it may be for your specific audience type, you will find the pin point of a specific influence – that is the heartland of the “engaged” audience you seek to engage with.
Find that social ecosystem and start a dialogue, and you have the makings of a social media strategy.
Tip to better your social media approach
Start to think of social media as a through-the-line, end-to-end approach, where the basic social channels form a part of, but are not the activation. Remember, it is the engagement and word-of-mouth recommendation that will amplify your social media strategy as well as amplify your above-the-line communications; in turn generating high quality leads to your business based on referrals. It a smart method that is at the core of social media activation and what social media marketing is and how it works!
- If Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist, how else would you use social media?
- Where are the other social spaces your potential audience frequents habitually?
- Why do they frequent these specific pages, and what are they saying?
- What is the pinpoint of their social media ecosystem and who is the small percentage of users leading the community?
- Why are you doing social media and what, contextually, do you have to offer to the conversation?
- What value can you offer by becoming part of the community, how will it help the rest of your communications plan?
Be more than a brand island with its own ego on Facebook! Be part of your audience’s networks and experiences online. And remember, social media is so much more than Facebook and Twitter.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.