Social Media – the Medium is not the Message

Social Media – the Medium is not the Message

It’s hard not to feel like you are always just a beat behind when it comes to social media.  There seems to be a new entrant into the social medial vendor landscape every day.  Social media tools are even now supporting revolution and regime change in the Middle East.  The number of videos watched on YouTube every single day (two billion – yes, that’s a B) beggars the imagination, while the number of daily tweets (95 million) makes me wonder where people find the time to actually do any work.

And yet, there is another set of statistics that give a different perspective of social media:  the percentage of job candidates hired using social media is below 2 percent.  Pear Analytics reviewed 2,000 random tweets and found only 9 percent of them were “moderately interesting.” Forty-three percent were considered to be simply babble, and 38 percent conversational (the old “I’m having coffee at Starbucks with Janet – love that latte!”)  The percentage of Americans that use a social media site every day is 15 percent, versus the 40 percent that use a search engine.

The secret of using social media in your marketing efforts isn’t a secret at all.  It’s remembering that social media isn’t a strategy, it’s a tactic.  It’s a new way to showcase your companies brand and communicate with customers and prospects, but the medium isn’t the message.  The fundamentals remain the same:

1.     Who are you trying to target?

2.     What are you trying to tell them?

3.     What’s the best tool for getting that message to them, and how can I make sure that the message is compelling?

4.     What action do I want them to take based on this information?

More than ever, we all need to make sure we are clear about these four things.  I think the last is the one that gets too little attention.  Do I really want to increase my number of likes on Facebook?  Or do I want people to buy more of my products or services?  Do I understand how one supports the other, or am I looking at Facebook fans as an end in itself?

Social media gives us a whole new set of tools for getting our message out to our target audiences, and new ways to make the message compelling.  It also lets us listen to those audiences in new ways, and improve our products and services based on their input.  In a perfect world, it helps us sell more products and services to clients who are satisfied that they got what they paid for (or maybe just a bit more!).  A good social media strategy ensures that your end result is as close to that perfect world as you can make it.