There is no doubt that social media provides us with exciting new opportunities for marketing. Today’s social networks are a huge resource of information and give us access to a network of possible prospects through your network connections.
But beware, you may be wasting valuable time.
First let’s look at the good and the bad aspects of social media.
The Good – being socially connected
Social media is fantastic for communicating and “following” people (or accounts). It has given Joe Public a way of connecting to friends, colleagues, relatives and celebrities without potentially ever having face-to-face communication. It’s encouraging the shy to be extrovert, no longer restricted to being submissive in face-to-face conversations. You know how it is: we are far braver over email than we are when face-to-face.
Suddenly we can be socially connected to almost anybody.
The Bad – being socially connected (again)
It’s this flexibility of anybody potentially being linked to anybody else that is diluting the real relationships. Businesses are looking at social media, and thinking it’s a great opportunity to engage. A business may look at me, as a busy LinkedIn user with 700 connections, and decide I have many connections therefore I have the ability to influence and repeat their message to all 700.
The Ugly truth
I decided to undertake a small experiment to highlight just one of the assumptions often made around the use of social media marketing
Before we start, let me say that Peter Beardsley is a legend. A great England footballer that, although not in the David Beckham poster-boy mold, should be an inspiration to young footballers everywhere. It’s for that very reason that he became the subject of my experiment: are all social connections equal?
I sent a connection request via LinkedIn to Peter Bearsdley, and within a few hours I am now proud to announce that Peter has kindly connected with me. Yes a very simple experiment but it speaks volumes.
I don’t know him, I’ve never spoken to him but, yes, he has accepted my connection invite. For the user this is what is great about social networks.
But the ugly truth is that connections alone don’t give the true picture. Peter adds to my connection count but clearly won’t be influenced by me as a stranger, which poses a question:
How many of our connections do we really know and influence?
I’ve got three types of connections:
- Celebrities: I have connected with Peter because he’s a football hero. I follow other celebrities to see what they are talking about and follow their news.
- Friends: I have connected to my friends simply because they are my friends
- Peers: I have connected to industry peers as part of work, sharing content and gaining industry knowledge
What I don’t do is communicate with them all the same way. So not all connections are equal. They’re not even used in the same way.
Making connections count
I’m sure I’m not alone in my example with Peter and there are lots of social networkers who are connecting to people they don’t know, have never met and have zero engagement with. This puts a wholly different take on the social connections matrix.
In an age where we have so much information at our finger tips, eyes and ears we need to think more strategically in order to ensure relevance. It’s not just about pushing out to as many people as possible. Potentially, we only get one shot at attracting a prospect’s interest, so we have to make it count.
Don’t assume. Analyse & Engage
At Volume, through working with our clients, we have learnt that the importance is to understand the recipient, a cursory look at network stats is not enough. Once you understand the recipient, and their relationship to you or your brand, you can engage in a far more productive and relevant way. That is exactly why we spend a lot of time understanding the audience and socially profiling them before we commit to social media campaigns with our clients. Social profiles are here to stay.
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