“Social Media Eliminates the Need to Provide Value to Anyone”

Ted Talks as only The Onion can do them.

If you haven’t seen The Onion’s skewering of both Ted Talks and our infatuation with social media, the video above is a treat. Not only are the “Onion Talks” a great parody of the Ted Talks speaker series, these “genius” insights on social media should strike a nerve with anyone using social media in their marketing efforts.

The reasonthat this satire works is that it hits so close to home with so much of what is being referred as “social media marketing” today. Here are four “truths” about The Onion’s take on social media:

“Social media eliminates the need to provide value to anyone”
For way too long many organizations were happy just to own a social media presence. Unfortunately that’s all it was, a presence, and for a while that was enough. Send out a few retweets, set up a pretty Facebook page, make some connections on LinkedIn and you were active in social media.

Now that everyone has a social media presence just being there isn’t enough. You need to offer your target audience something of value, something that not only brings them to your social media profiles or website but is so absolutely amazing that they want to share it with others.

The latest buzzword to describe these offers: “content.”

The thing is, content marketing is nothing new. Content has always been at the heart of a good internet marketing campaign. Good content has always survived anything that the Google algorithms could throw at it and it is ultimately good content that leads to online conversions.

Now that everyone is catching on to the fact that content is the driving force behind all online marketing efforts, it raises the bar for everyone. It used to be possible to move up the search engine rankings by filling a website with keyword stuffed canned web copy. Not anymore. Now it requires high quality information or entertainment that your target audience wants and it needs to be good enough that they will want to share it with others.

“Those people ‘liked’ Cheetos even though they had no reason to…because we gave them no incentive”
Yeah, people may “like” your Facebook page in order to win a free iPad but will they come back again? Are those people who “liked” your Facebook even potential clients? While giving away a nice prize might boost the follower count, unless you continue to interact with those followers, you may not even show up in their social media feed. Unless you give your target audience an incentive to come back to your profile and interact with your brand, chances are they won’t.

And while everyone may want a chance to win a free iPad, at some point you’ve got to provide an incentive that appeals directly to your target audience. Offering an eBook that solves an industry problem or an instructional video that helps them manage a daily task and you’ve given them a reason to “like” you. Do it often enough and they will seek you out.

“Companies don’t care if your followers are real or not. They will pay you either way.”
Hopefully we have moved beyond the days where social media marketing objectives were based on the number of followers a profile received. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have if they aren’t listening and interacting with your brand. Analytic tools such as those provided with Hubspot have reached a point where we can track not only the number of followers but how they found you, what they did when they did found you and what action or information they need in order to complete a desired conversion (make a purchase, become a client, download an ebook).

If your analytics consists only of only counting followers or likes, then it’s quite possible your followers aren’t real.

“Anything that is old requires effort and that is inefficient.”
Producing great content takes effort and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. For many companies it involves a cultural shift as marketing efforts become more about publishing and less about advertising. Along with producing content, websites may need to be redesigned in order to allow for easy updates and publishing of blog posts and content offers, landing pages must be written and developed, sales funnels must be established, email autoresponders and followup communications must be created not to mention the ongoing demands of maintaining active social media accounts.

Successful social media marketing is driven by content and content marketing takes effort. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

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