How Social Media Has Changed, Yet Remained the Same
How Social Media Has Changed, Yet Remained the Same

In 2008, I decided to quit my job and start a business. Countless hours of planning went into discovering my points of differentiation (as a PR firm you have to –there are 79.5M results when you search “PR Firm” on Google), yet for every 10 hours of thinking and planning that went into changing the .....

In 2008, I decided to quit my job and start a business. Countless hours of planning went into discovering my points of differentiation (as a PR firm you have to –there are 79.5M results when you search “PR Firm” on Google), yet for every 10 hours of thinking and planning that went into changing the ways we did PR, it only took about five minutes to find a point of differentiation in Social Media.

At that time, there were no Social Media gurus, digital experts or agencies. No Limit Media Consulting (now No Limit Agency) was going to be it.

I packed my bags and moved from Chicago to Atlanta, with a vision of finding a market where the competition was weak (not many PR firms and certainly no Social Media agencies). In March of 2008, my decision proved to be worthwhile. In January of 2009, everything changed.

With the economy struggling, marketing agencies had to evolve or die. Many evolved by adding the term “digital” to their offerings. Now, as a two-man operation, we were trumped. It was a great idea to offer Social Media footprints managed like a PR firm; we just didn’t have the financial bandwidth to push the pedal harder.

The beauty of being first, though, is that you are always first. Also, the vision I created was built on a vision for greatness, not survival of the fittest in a crunch.When I quit my job, I vividly remember someone saying, “Social Media is a fad.” Clearly it wasn’t. I remember CEOs challenging me that Social Media had no control, therefore, they didn’t want to play. Clearly, there is control. And I remember (and still have to argue) marketing pros saying Social Media ROI would be nearly impossible to determine. Boy, were they wrong.

Today, the wants and desires of clients have not changed much. They want fans. Lots of fans. Everything else seems secondary. As we head into our sixth year as an agency of being a leader in Social brand management, here are five Social Media observations that may help you position your goals for 2014:

Facebook Fans: Many brands want lots of fans. I understand why. However, there have been some changes to the way fans work – and unless you are prepared with a plan –it’s going to be challenging to build an audience, and more importantly, talk with them. Facebook’s algorithm has created challenges. It only allows you to reach a small percentage of your fans, unless you advertise. Thus, if you spend a ton of money building your audience up, you better be ready to spend to communicate with them. And when you communicate, you better have a strategy so that you can gain your ROI. It’s not just about impressions, you can actually drive hard spending back. Look at www.facebook.com/pitapitcanada.

SoLoMo: Mobile is an absolute. If I am leading the marketing for a brand, I am putting my top marketing spend focus on mobile, then Social and forget about spending dollars locally (you can accomplish local results from a national footprint). In franchising, many franchisors want their franchisees to have localized pages. Why? Well, marketers would argue that fans don’t want to hear about things that happen in other markets, just in their local market. OK, I understand that argument, but how’s that working for you? Say your local franchisee creates a crowd of 1,000 people. Are they willing to spend $350/week to reach them? No. The term crowd exists, as do popularity contests, because crowds drive results. When Facebook was created, if it was only a crowd of Harvard students speaking Harvard speak, it would have stopped there. People love people –and when there is a crowd raving about your brand, others take notice. If you’ve worked on the social side, you know you can still have hyperlocalized posts. You can still offer your franchisees the ability to speak locally (through these geographically targeted posts). And you can take the collective would-be spend and really grow a footprint. Look at www.facebook.com/mooyah

Calendar: Ah the planning calendar. Why it works: it creates a pathway to success. Why should you be willing to divert? Social Media has the word Social in front of it. With all of these different distribution tools available, where content mass is produced and mass distributed, what does it mean to be Social? That personal tie has been removed. At our agency, we still live in the moment. In fact, we set the standard for hiring people per brand so that we can still have a personal, human voice on all our accounts. Sure, we use Hootsuite and other posting tools –but people are Social. When you remove all human touch and plan out the script, it leaves little room for Social. Look at www.facebook.com/pitapitrocks

Social Media ROI: Can you drive real ROI? That question gets asked at every conference. If you don’t think you can get ROI, why are you doing it? There is the passive ROI, spending that happens naturally because of the impressions the Social Media footprint creates. There is proactive ROI, such as controlling the first page of a Google Search with the Social sites you manage. There is active ROI, in that you can create a robust plan of Facebook advertising and offers and measure return and results. It still comes back to planning and identifying opportunities to find some ROI. McDonalds says their fans spend $150 more a year than average users who don’t like their Facebook page. That’s real money. Two ideas for you: Take your worst sales day and create a plan for offers on that day. Promote it through Social channels only. Make sure you have tracking set up. Track what moves and sells. If you offer a BOGO, you may be stalled. If you offer a pizza that is traditionally $10 for $5, when your food cost is $2.50, you can still make money, drive a crowd, show your fans you love them, and measure ROI. Second idea is to campaign specifically around a low performing idea or service. Only market this Socially for a quarter. See if sales increase. Make sure you have a mix of Facebook advertising to help push the product. Look at www.facebook.com/toppersrocks

Social Marketing Specialist: I put up a job posting for a Social Media specialist. It returned more than 2,000 resumes in the Chicagoland area. Supply is too high, and demand is becoming more efficient. If you haven’t learned how to be mildly savvy in Social, you should. Experts report that the Social Marketing Specialist will be a job of the past. It will become a part of what we do. If you, as a brand, are hiring this position internally, rethink the job description. Add in other tasks.

This article will only be on the front page for a few days. However, after six years of running a Social Media agency, I can say that while the technology and news changes, the fundamentals don’t. Social Media is still all about being Social. It is about humanizing the brand. It is about creating a proactive footprint that speaks with, rather than at, the end user.

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