I picture myself as Aladdin, stealthily slipping into the magic cave to brave its trials and ultimately retrieve the magic lamp. I rub the side of the tarnished artifact to release the ancient genie and am granted 3 wishes. What do I do with the first wish? Get everyone to stop asking our agency to “do their social media”!!!
Ok, so maybe I have a flair for the dramatic. It’s not that we don’t want to undertake social marketing strategies, it’s that people still treat social media marketing like it’s a commodity cure-all for their marketing woes. Thus, they sum up everything that’s possible in these increasingly complex channels with “doing social media”. This has been a pet peeve of mine for some time (can you tell?). I want to ask the genie to vanquish that phrase from existence…until I find my magic lamp, though, maybe I can try to articulate why it’s the ultimate misnomer.
First, “social media” itself has become a muddy term. I don’t want this to become a droning history of social media, but a brief recap might be handy. The term was originally used to describe a style of content sharing that was peer to peer (i.e. social) rather than published by a traditional media outlet. Now, because the channels through which the sharing occurs have evolved, so too has the phrase evolved to encompass the media channels, the participants, the features and functions of all the various channels and still the myriad media types shared there. So, returning to the point here, “doing social media” has so many meanings, it has essentially become meaningless. Which suggests we’ll always say “yes, we can do your social media”.
In a marketing conversation, I prefer to ask, what are you trying to accomplish, and then, can we accomplish that using social media marketing tactics? The list of tactics that can be executed through social channels is extensive and includes things like: social content creation and publishing (text, video, imagery, etc), paid promotion of said content to deliver it to specific audiences on those channels, paid digital advertising, direct social connection and interaction, and more. Within those broad areas, you can focus on entertainment, education, reputation building, audience growth, and more here again. So, to “do social media” without spending every last dime of your finite marketing budget, I’d suggest starting with a goal in mind and then asking your marketing team and partners “Can you help me reach this goal using social media marketing”? that’ll make us all feel better…including the genie.