In other words, brands are old women sitting around a living room talking about how social media saves time and money with a poor understanding of how it works.

Posted on October 22, 2015 by David Yovich

One of my favorite spots in the past few years is the Esurance commercial ‘Beatrice’. The spot begins with two older women sitting in a living room while a third, presumably Beatrice, is excited at how much time she is saving by just posting her vacation photographs on her wall… her living room wall. She then integrates the sales pitch about Esurance, but when one of the friends claims she saved more, Beatrice turns and exclaims, “I unfriend you”. Her recently unliked friend retorts, “That’s not how it works, it’s not how any of this works.” The spot is cute, clever, and does a great job at tying the Esurance message of saving time and money.

From a different perspective, the spot perfectly portrays how most brands view and implement social media strategy. In other words, brands are old women sitting around a living room talking about how social media saves time and money with a poor understanding of how it works.

When a social media strategy works, it does eventually save time and money, but more importantly it has a drastic ROI that sometimes is not immediately realized. I’ve sat through one to many meetings where the product release campaign relied solely on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook, in many cases, has turned into a simple way to deliver electronic coupons. This is especially true with mid-size brands. In the world of social media, companies must understand and embrace three different factors: the what, the why, and the how.

Every company needs to participate in all relevant platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, but the type of product or service they offer will dictate “what” social media platform should be utilized most. Understand the demographics of social media users per platform. Facebook is the most widely used platform. 71% of all internet using adults have a Facebook page. The 65+ age demographic is rapidly growing, and in fact 56% of all internet users in that demographic are on Facebook. Twitter accounts for 23% of adult internet users. The typical user is college educated with a household income above $50,000. Instagram has a younger appeal with higher usage in the age group of 18-29 along with Hispanics and African Americans in urban areas. Pinterest on the other hand is most used by white suburban and rural woman. Understanding the statistics will help to dictate the usage. For example, retirement villages shouldn’t dismiss social media, but shouldn’t have a strong emphasis on Instagram, while home gardening products should highly leverage Pinterest.

Companies tend to assume that just because they acquired likes or followers that the job is done and consumers really care about what the company posts. In reality, 73% of consumers have unliked or unfollowed a company or product. A like or follow is akin to an introduction, a handshake, and an open ear.

It’s the follow-up that leaves the lasting impression. If a company posts too much, followers hit unlike, if a company tries to simply “sell” product, they hit unlike. Companies need to take the opportunity to share and promote the brand experience, not just product pitches and coupons. People participate in social media to share their experiences in life, stay connected to people and things that have touched their life, stay informed on subjects that they find interesting, and become inspired on projects, meals, desires, and goals. Companies that successfully intertwine their products and services within the “why” ultimately achieve a successful social media plan.

The “how” is abstract, creative, and fluid. Social media is just a delivery method, not a holistic solution. Unlike traditional advertising where it’s one-way communication from the company to consumer, social media allows for two-way communication between the company and consumer.

Successful social media campaigns leverage the incoming communication from the consumer more then the outgoing communication from the company. Social media campaigns need to integrate and enhance the “why” people are on social media and develop campaigns that become social. A recent example of social media brilliance was last weeks “Lucky Charms Marshmallow Contest”. General Mills released 10 Lucky Charms boxes filled with marshmallows only and asked their followers to submit pictures holding the box for a chance to win. It ignited social media, which inevitably ignited traditional media such as stories all over local news stations. Campaigns such as General Mills integrate and enhance the “why”.

Social Media will only grow and evolve. It’s a way we can stay informed, connected, and share with all the people that ever touched our lives. It’s personal, yet impersonal. It allows people to be brilliant, silly, and sometimes a little to courageous. Companies that succeed with social media will ultimately find a way to navigate on how all of it works, or become just another ‘Beatrice’ posting pictures on their conference room wall exclaiming how much time and money they are saving.


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