Are marketers going too far when it comes to abusing your social media profiles to try and solicit interest in their products and services? With social media meant to be about conversation where do we draw the line between being in a conversation and being broadcast to?
What constitutes spam?
Spam is defined as any unsolicited contact by a brand through any form of personalised communication platform in an effort to try and sell a product or a service to you. This can be taken further with malicious spam which is designed to try and trick you out of money (this would be from the lawyer handling your late uncle’s affairs who only needs a few thousand dollars to have the millions cleared and deposited into your bank account) or cause your system / hardware to be infected with a virus.
How do people use Twitter?
I’m focusing on Twitter specifically in this article as it has a high penetration among users and is an area where there is a lot of spam coming to the fore.
People generally follow people. People follow someone who they identify, are friends with, admire or who they have some level of a relationship with (either real world or aspirational).
An example of this is that DJ Fresh (Drive Time DJ on 5fm) has more followers than the radio station itself.
In a study conducted by emarketer.com in the United States, the following table shows on average how many brands are followed by Twitter users.
This shows that on average 30.6 percent of Twitter users only follow between one and five brands that they feel are worthy of their attention. But where does this leave marketers who are doing their best to truly utilise social media? It is the last refuge of the SME in tough economic times when budgets are being sliced thinner and thinner and results are being frequently being demanded from the top brass.
Back to spam
People don’t like being broadcast to, especially if they have not given you permission to market to them. Sadly, this is a route that a lot of marketers are starting to take. Some marketers have begun searching around tweets that mention specific hash tags that are relevant to their product and are then blanket messaging those who have used these hash tags in an effort to either get followed or again, push products. Sadly, this is not the effective way to use this medium to its fullest.
The truth is that embracing social media is not a sprint event, but rather a long distance steeple chase. It will take businesses a while to build a loyal and decent sized following. The trick is to realise how offline media and other digital marketing avenues can act as feeders to growing your social following.
Creating a spider’s web of touch points
Business needs to fully embrace social media and make it a core part of its go-to-market strategies. This means that it needs to form a part of all marketing collateral from business cards to email signatures, billboards, adverts and everything in-between.
When this has been done, the content that surrounds each part of external business communication needs to be crafted with “sharability” in mind. If the content is simple enough and compelling enough to share, then people will.
What this approach does is place the origin of the message on to the public; you empower them with the information to share and tell their story around your brand and message.
Where does the value lie?
When analysing the value and return on investment on social media, there is far greater value in having your brand and product shared by a group of potential and current clients, rather than it coming from your business directly. Conversation which is directed and owned by the public will cascade into a greater share of voice. This conversation is far more valuable than dredging through spam techniques and “social competitions” to try and bribe followers so that you have a large following to broadcast to.
Measuring and monitoring the conversation
This is not to say that having a Twitter account for a business is a waste of time. It is saying that marketing is more about responding to conversations and ensuring that your business has a voice with which to respond on the platform where the conversation is happening; rather than trying to force the conversation with old school offline broadcasting techniques.
With tools like SaidWot, Google Alerts, Brands Eye, Radian 6 and so many more; businesses are more empowered to monitor and manage their online reputations than ever before and this is where the true value of social media lies.
Author | Jonathan Houston
Jonathan Houston is passionate about digital marketing and digital strategy. During the day, Jonathan is the Head of Digital Marketing for HKLM. Jonathan's work at HKLM includes strategy conceptualization, focusing on the alignment of digital marketing to business strategy as well as assisting HKLM's clients on fulfilling their digital... More