I see many similarities in social media marketing of 2012 with Internet marketing circa 2000. At the heart of the similarities is a notion among many businesses that they need to have a presence because that is where their customers are. Another similarity I have observed is that many marketers do not have a clue what to do once they get there. “Let’s set up a Facebook page” may be a great idea, but why should anyone other than employees and relatives follow your business? To build a following, you must first build trust with people so that they believe your brand is worth following and justifies their implied endorsement.
A study conducted earlier this year by About.com found that consumers expect transparency from businesses on social media. People want access to user reviews and comments, including ones that do not reflect positively on the company or product. In terms of content, social media marketing should reduce emphasis on sales-oriented messaging. People are not interested in social networking sites becoming one more place where they are bombarded with “buy now” messages. “Like” trumps buy as the desired audience response.
Among findings in the About.com survey concerning liked content:
- 33% said seeing a like or recommendation from a friend built their trust in a brand
- 25% said the number of likes a piece of content received influenced brand trust
Use social media content to build trust, and the sales will follow. The verbs of social media marketing are:
Manage your social media sites as a place for customers and others to gather around your brand, not as an alternative to paid mass media for delivering sales messages. Do not ignore selling opportunities presented by social media, but those opportunities have to be earned by gaining the trust of your following.