What is social media and why does it matter?
According to the social media site Wikipedia, social media refers to
“the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue“
Interactive: the web is an interactive medium. Unlike a television spot, the web offers one-to-one marketing, interactivity and the potential for engagement. Also, websites are marketing tools that people choose to visit.
But dialogue is marketing jargon. In the quest to define social media and things like dialogue, we lost site of the fact that social media sites are just websites that people decided to visit.
The Burger King Subservient Chicken site is an interactive and engaging site. It was also wildly successful and on brand, since it delivered the notion that people could have their chicken any way they wanted it at Burger King.
It was an interactive engagement. But since it wasn’t a dialogue, it isn’t a social media site.
So what is a social media site?
Before I answer this, here’s a story: when I managed the interactive campaign for a quick service restaurant, we handed out $5 gift cards to fans on Twitter. A fan DM’d us with the following message:
“This is marketing genius. I’ve never felt so close to a company before.”
Three years ago when this happened, the idea of engaging with a brand was different enough to be interesting. Up to that point, the marketing for the QSR brand was from TV, Radio and Print. Those mediums are excellent at creating awareness, but they are not interactive. Before the Twitter feed and the Facebook page were launched, the QSR had a website, but less than 3,000 people went there in a month. That many people went a single restaurant for breakfast!
This ability to engage in social media was both good and bad. It allowed brands to have more tools in the marketing tool box, but clouded our thinking about the power of social media.
Because of messages like the one from above, a conversation was the expectation of ‘social media’, and every thing was steered to Facebook or Twitter.
So what is a social media site?
The problem is, Facebook and Twitter are just two of the many digital tactics at a brand’s disposal. The lowly website is still engagement tactic that can create conversations. But too often, marketers turn to secondary sites for engagement because they promise conversations.
When used right, YouTube can be an excellent way to engage people. People respond with video comments, or with written comments. One could also see Flickr as a social media site. What about Delicious? what about Slideshare, one of my favorites? Are they social media sites?
The point is, they are all just websites. When used right, these websites can get people to engage, and if the goal is conversations, they can generate those as well.
Just call them websites? Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the brand .com or .xxx or dot whatever are all just websites. They aren’t social media sites, but they are part of the marketing mix – when appropriate. Set goals, create content, then measure.
But we need to stop geting caught up in terms. Instead, we should get caught up in strategy. What do you think? Was social media the right term?
- Make Your Marketing Social by Design (greatfinds.icrossing.com)
- 20 stunning social media statistics (cyberjournalist.net)
- Preparing an NFL Social Media Game Plan (pallino1021.wordpress.com)
- How to Make Your Social Media Sites Stand Out From the Competition (progressivemediaconcepts.com)
- Enhance Your Social Media Campaign With YouTube (convonix.com)
- Stop wasting money on social media (and social media agencies) (richardstacy.com)
- Should Small Businesses Really Worry About Social Media? (blogworld.com)
- Social Media and Tax Law for Nonprofits (taxprof.typepad.com)