I love marketing and since you’re reading this blog, chances are you do too. While the business of marketing is exciting, it isn’t always a bed of roses. We must be honest with ourselves and take a hard look at the not so pleasant reality of digital marketing if we are going to use social media the way it was intended, to build relationships.
In order to shed a little light on the subject, we’ve asked a few industry thought-leaders to share some harsh truths, “loves” and “hates,” about digital marketing.
Here’s what they had to say:
NOW Marketing Group
Harsh Truth 101: You can’t buy influence. True, authentic community and influence is just not for sale, it’s something you have to work for. It’s a long end-game, but trust me it works #BuildRelationships @JessikaPhillips (Click to Tweet)
“We’ve all heard the quote that money can’t buy happiness, but it also rings true for influence. That’s my harsh truth for 2019, you can’t buy influence and community. You can spot them from a mile away, the instagram profiles that have aggregated a massive following through paid services or ‘like for a like.’ Or the Facebook profiles that have purchased their followers. Sure you’re amassing a following, but they aren’t your true community. It’s a following you have no influence over because they haven’t built a relationship with you.
Being influential and creating community takes time. I’m not talking a month or two, but real time. We tell our clients that to be active and strategic when building an authentic community could take up to 12-18 months. We set the expectation that this just isn’t something that is for sale. If you want to start tipping the scales from paid ads to organic relationship building, it’s time to put in the work. It’s a long end-game, but trust me, it works. When you invest the time to build your authentic community, they’ll show up for you, sharing your message, because they believe in what you’ve done. So there you have it, true authentic community and influence is just not for sale, it’s something you have to work for.”
CEO, I Am Here, LLC
“There are two big things I hate in the social media marketing space in 2019: the idea of ‘set it and forget it,’ and the idea that everything your brand needs to create must be flawless. Brands that will succeed in 2019 will emphasize engagement over cold, calendar-based content creation, and will embrace their imperfections to establish authentic relationships with their customers.”
One of the harshest realities of social media is build it & they will come. That may have worked years ago when reach was organic. Today, ‘show up & throw up,’ isn't going to work. @rebekahradice (Click to Tweet)
“One of the harshest realities of social media is build-it-and-they-will-come. Now, while that might have worked many years ago when we had organic reach, today we know that ‘show up and throw up,’ isn't a strategy that's going to attract an audience.
What you have to do is commit.
Commit to the long-term. Commit to creating relationships. Commit to being the exact right solution for your audience.
When you show up on a consistent basis, with a plan in place, knowing exactly who you're speaking with, you’re going to win at social media.”
Harsh truth: most brand content sucks. Much of the content that is created for social media is self-promotional & doesn’t take into account what the customer actually wants. @jenns_trends (Click to Tweet)
“Most brand content sucks. As marketers and companies, much of the content that is created for social media is done so to promote the company. It’s self-promotional and does not take into account what the customer actually wants.
Content is created as marketing ploys, not as conversational or relationship building content, and as such, when people see it in their feeds, they scroll past it because it’s not remotely entertaining or valuable to them.
I always tell my clients to go look at their content as a customer or as a user of social media, NOT as an employee of their company. Then I ask them, ‘if your competitor or another company posted that content, would you like it? Would you read it? Would you share it?’
If they answer honestly, most of the time the answer is “no.”
If your engagement sucks, chances are your content sucks. Create content that appeals to your audience (and no, that doesn’t mean cat memes) and entertains or educates them, while uplifting your brand in their eyes.”
Forget about the idea of having a video go viral. Not only is that unlikely to happen, even if it does, the kind of videos that go viral are unlikely to drive business results. @BloggingBrute (Click to Tweet)
“I recently published an article titled, ‘7 Harsh Truths About Blogging You Need To Know’ and while the realities and struggles I shared were very much focused on the world of blogging, there are similar patterns we see in other industries, particularly online marketing. Namely, the harsh truth that online marketing success takes time.
Forget about the idea of having a video go viral. Not only is that unlikely to happen, even if it does, the kind of videos that go viral are unlikely to drive business results. A video of you dancing and singing Uptown Funk through the corridors of your business might be fun, but it’s not going to make the phone ring.
Real online marketing - building up an audience and brand awareness for a business - takes time. A LOT of time. There are no shortcuts and no secrets to success that are going to circumvent the need for you to reach one person at a time and make a positive impression.
Yes there are tools that can help and processes you can adopt that will add efficiency and scale. But it starts with adopting a brand message and philosophy and then sharing that with individuals.”
Dorien Morin-van Dam
More In Media
Here’s a harsh truth for 2019… throw that ‘80/20 self-promo’ rule floating around on social media, out the window - it is a made-up rule, no one really knows where it came from. @moreinmedia (Click to Tweet)
“Here’s a harsh truth for you to hear in 2019! Throw that ‘80/20 self-promo’ rule floating around on social media, out the window - it is a made-up rule and no one really knows where it came from.
If you look to big brands you will find that they are 95% self-promoting; they only talk about their own products and services, very rarely do they highlight a charity or a community event. They do this because they can and get good results.
As a smaller brand, a small or medium size business, I suggest you start by self-promoting 20% of the time. Use this rule as a starting point, not the finish line. Look at your analytics for that 20% to see how you did and next test 30%, 40%, even 50% self-promotional posts. Don't get stuck on this 'made-up-number' as you might be losing out on a real opportunity to share your brand message with your online audience.
In the end, your online audience and your data will tell you what magic number will work best for your business!”
There are some mistakes that businesses are making online over and over again that need to stop.
1. Social Media as Direct Sales
Social Media is first and foremost about the social. It's about relationships and connecting, not selling. Stop pushing sales and wondering why it's not working! Social media is great for finding the right audience, engaging with that audience, building trust, and nurturing brand awareness. It's not a 1:1 direct sales channel so stop posting that way!
2. Limited and Irregular Social Media Participation
Your business is not going to generate any value from social media if you post irregularly and in limited number. You have to be consistent with multiple posts weekly to receive value! Aim for at least 4 posts a week on Facebook and Instagram, 5-7 minimum on Twitter if you want to have any impact with social media as a marketing and engagement tool. With Stories growing in popularity, it is even more important to consider more regular Story updates as well.
3. Buying Followers and Using Auto-DM Tools on Instagram
First, it's against the terms of Instagram. Second, it does not get you the long-term valuable type of follower that would do business with you. Third, it can damage your brand reputation. It's not a good model, just like buying email lists to use is not a good plan to use to reach new potential customers.
So just stop it! Take the time to be real, share stories, engage authentically and put in the effort to enable social media to truly work for your business.”
“LinkedIn is first and foremost a professional network. To build relationships with our connections and reach a wider network we must stand out by getting involved. Content can be scheduled with smart tools such as AgoraPulse, but we must talk with our network, not AT them. The person throwing the most content does not win.
- Be on brand, and on purpose
- Be engaging, ask questions
- Use easy to scan text, native images and video
- If you are talking about people or companies, @mention them
- Use relevant hashtags to make your content more discoverable
- Most importantly, reply to those who took the time to comment”
Keeping It Human
“MOST MARKETING STORYTELLING DOESN’T WORK
There's no quick fix for marketing storytelling that delights and inspires your audience *and* also works for your goals. Too many companies look at individual pieces of content - campaigns, videos, ads, and all of it - as story one-offs. Additionally, many companies use boring stories that lack any differentiation and sound like every competitor’s story or like a template that everyone uses. That’s a lot of work for little pay off and at a great disservice to you and your audience. It leads to fragmented, inconsistent, and 'so what?' storytelling that does not help anyone: you, your customers or your brand.
Great marketing storytelling is work and it's worth it! Marketing storytelling that works isn’t shallow; each story or piece of content should paint a consistent, larger picture and move your larger brand story forward. Where do you start? Start with your brand values and the big story about how you help make customers' lives better. Everything flows from that. Then, dig deeper for all kinds of stories that provide social proof of your big story and your values in action. There are many wonderful stories waiting to be told - so go get them! It starts with your values. Define those clearly.”
“I’m going to cut straight to the chase. STOP WITH THE LIKE & SHARE COMPETITIONS! The harsh reality is they don’t work – yes, you’ll get a lots likes, yes, you’ll get shares, but then what?
Let me tell you some harsh truths:
- Asking someone to share as condition of entry is against Facebook’s Terms and Conditions and all you are doing is taking people away from your page who will more than likely never return.
- All those ‘likes’ mean absolutely nothing if you are not creating engaging, interesting,
relevant content, on a regular basis. The better strategy would be:
- Have your audience answer a question or post a picture with dialogue – get them talking and if possible have them include others in the conversation.
- Use a third party tool or integrate a messenger chat bot so you can get an email address or have them added to a messenger subscription, either way it allows YOU to then reconnect at a later date.
Stop focusing on vanity metrics, instead focus on a strategy where you can talk and re-engage with your audience when you have more valuable information to share.”
Classroom Without Walls
Produce content and activities to move your business forward. Otherwise, we’re simply being social for the sake of being social and getting lost in the rabbit hole of social media @AiAddysonZhang (Click to Tweet)
“People say that you have to be social on social media. However, what does it mean? Does it mean chatting with everyone, responding to everyone’s comment or being all over the place? The answer is no.
Being social is important; however, it is even more important to be strategic about your social media efforts. You have to produce content and activities that move your business forward. Otherwise, we are simply being social for the sake of being social and getting lost in the rabbit hole of social media. Scaling your business through social media is only possible when you have a strategy and a plan.”
Pro Athlete Online
“Take responsibility for working out your brand’s how. It can’t be a prescription from an online guru.
Every brand must have its own USP, unique selling point. It’s point of difference. So stop relying on someone to give you ‘5 HOW’s’ to execute.
Sharpen your skill of applying strategic thinking to an executable action for your brand’s unique positioning, point of difference – and most importantly, audience.
Go to conferences and sit in strategy sessions, even how-to sessions but know that in BOTH cases you will need to stop and think how this applies to your brand. This can’t be given to you as a prescription.
Engagement matters. Not in the how much you have, but in the way you engage. I could tell you 5 ways to engage with your audience and where, but you have to work out, based on your brand’s voice and values and your audience’s perceptions and needs, how you are going to engage. You have to take responsibility for your brand’s how.”
Jumping the gun and placing ads on the internet without a formal plan (which includes a short and long-term strategy) does not and will now work. Can’t walk before you learn to crawl. @ameliatran (Click to Tweet)
“Things I've seen that do not and will not work:
Just like there’s no one size fits all strategy, one person cannot do the work of what’s realistically the job of a fully staffed team.
- When small to mid-sized companies hire a person to take on the workload and they're expected to have the skillset of a fully staffed team. I've seen this to be the case for not only small businesses (which I can understand, are bootstrapped), but with well-known brands.
- Jack-of-all-trades aren't on trend with the demands and skillset required to fully service complexities of online marketing: strategy, content development, production, paid media, analytics, tagging, community development & so forth.
A short-term only mindset.
- Brands invest in marketing for awareness and to drive conversions, whether it's a sign-up, sale or download. Some industries, products and services campaign seasonally, while most, do not have enough data to dictate seasonal trends. It is difficult to show success when your advertising is inconsistent, and you make too MANY changes, or stop campaigning because you’re not seeing success in short-term.
Lack of benchmarking and understanding of what's happening NOW.
- The story is incomplete when a client brief is shared without a success metric and goal to work towards. How do we, as marketers, achieve success, when it is undefined? Invest in understanding your historical data. Allow your agency, consultant, team members to chat (with you, as a team) on a regular cadence to discuss what's happening within the industry, new developments within social, search and/or programmatic.
Jumping the gun and placing ads on the internet without a formal plan (which includes a short and long-term strategy). Can’t walk before you learn to crawl.
- It's no secret the next hot product or service will be difficult to discover without the power of sponsorship, whether through paid ads and/or influencer support. I mean, look what happened with Fyre Fest. But, don't just hire the next consultant or agency to place ads without having a solid strategy to execute off of.”
"Oftentimes, we as marketers position our messaging around our product or service in a way that makes us appear narcissistic. We talk about ourselves, our work, our development, our endorsements, or our accolades. Yet, what your customer really needs to know is how your product or service is going to solve their problem. The customer needs to understand the shift in their experience, identity, pain, fear, finances, family, marriage or peace of mind. They want to know what impact your company will have in their lives.
Speak to the fear, identify with their pain, justify their fears/concerns, and, most of all, show why your product/service is the ONLY solution they should be considering. The more you connect the human element to your brand, the easier it is for customers to know, like and trust your solution.
As such, focus your organic social media strategies around telling solution stories. Be transparent, speak in a language your customers speak (you can use the actual words from customer support feedback for marketing copy), and, most of all, give your people great reasons to partner with your company.
The secret is in making your customers FEEL phenomenal. The power of that emotion can ignite an advocate, evangelist, and lifelong customer."
“Investing in Facebook Ads
Managing Facebook Ads has got a lot more complicated than it used to be. You may love it that Facebook Ads can generate loads of leads and sales for your business, but you may also hate the fact that you now have to pay someone else to do it for you.
When you are investing in an agency to manage your Facebook Ads, you aren’t just paying for them to manage your ad campaigns, you are also buying back time.
You are buying back time to work in your area of expertise, doing what you do best to help grow your business, whilst your agency is growing your business at the same time using their expertise to deliver the best possible return on investment from your ad campaigns.
You’ve also saved yourself the heartache of having to develop the strategy, create the campaigns, monitor them daily and tweak them based on performance. Better still, you now don’t have to keep abreast of the ever changing world of Facebook Ads, nor experience that feeling of frustration when what worked for you last week is isn’t working today.
That’s for you agency to worry about now.
You have now removed all those tasks from your overflowing “to do” list. And if you are super smart, then you will use that newfound time to invest in other revenue generating activities or better still, spending some more time with family and friends.”
Christine Gritmon Inc.
“Your “point of difference” cannot be “what you do.” Other people do what you do! No matter how unique you think you are, what you do is not what makes you special or different. The only true competitive advantage you have is YOU: your personality, your voice, your face! So don’t be afraid to let that personality shine.”
I hope you found these “truths” helpful, however, one key takeaway from most of our influencer’s tips… authenticity, authenticity, authenticity. Now more than ever, the online marketplace is saturated with voices trying to reach above the noise. There are no shortcuts to amplify your message. By working to create your authentic community and focusing on your audience needs, you will create advocates for your brand. Let your advocates and your community share your message. THEY will amplify your voice!
Share with us one of your harsh truths of social media and online marketing. We’d love to hear from you.