(This article originally appeared in Social Media Today.)
The mantra for marketing should be “add value or get out.” A brief history lesson of the marketing adoption cycle with new digital communication channels bears this out clearly.There are typically five discrete steps:
This story has played out repeatedly within digital marketing. Take banner advertising, for example.Marketers initially competed on the “how annoying and intrusive can I be?” scale (remember Punch the Monkey?). Consumers responded in kind by ignoring banner ads. Marketers began employing techniques to target ads — giving consumers ads that were less annoying and more relevant. Behold, the CTR rebounded and marketers and consumers rejoiced!
Email was much of the same. Remember when you first got that email from Amazon that said “you may also be interested in this” and you were actually interested? Amazon started sending these emails around Y2K, and their technology seemed magical at the time. Every other ecommerce merchant just sent mass emails, but Amazon really knew what we wanted.
The commonality across mature digital marketing channels is that for consumers to be receptive to marketing messages they need to derive value from the relationship with the brand. Social media is starting to find its way towards this equilibrium. Two years ago, companies could get by simply by “being social.” The channel wasn’t noisy yet, so the companies that did invest the time to join the conversation were rewarded just for showing up. Today, not so much. Marketers that don’t add value will be given a swift kick in the unfollow behind.
So how do you “add value” as a brand in social media? We’ve talked about how email and display marketing can add value through increased targeting and promotional offers, but that’s not really how social media works. This is because social is one-to-many: as a brand, every message you send goes to your whole audience, not just a single person. So targeting isn’t the answer.
While the book on social media marketing is being re-written daily, we can all learn from the best practices that successful brands are implementing today:
The answer for your brand will be a unique mix. Figure out what your customers, prospects, and advocates want from you and then give it to them. They’ll be much more receptive to your marketing messages if they’re getting value out of the relationship too.
How are you adding value for your audience?