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You’d think after all these years, people would have stopped calling themselves “Social Media Experts“. Then again, you’d think we’d be more savvy and stop buying what these snake-oil peddlers are selling. Fact is, neither outcome is true. There are still Social Media Experts and there are still countless suckers born every minute. Let’s be clear about something though: there are people who have a better understanding of the social media sphere than others. They’re just not Social Media Experts. They’re marketing* experts.
Marketing experts understand that social media is just another marketing platform. They understand it’s not the sure-fire, can’t-miss, never-fails, all-you-will-ever-need solution to your business problem. In fact, if someone sincerely pitches you that social media is “the only marketing strategy you’ll ever need”, it is our professional recommendation that you exit that conversation post-haste and make sure you never answer that person’s phone call again. Social media is important. In fact, it’s become a key feature in the marketing mix. You might not like that but your consumers and customers want to see you in the social media world. And if you mess it up, woe betide you and your brand. The negative fallout can be a nightmare. It won’t be insurmountable but it will cost you money and time to fix. And that’s time and money that would have been spent elsewhere.
So how do you know if you’re dealing with a Social Media Expert?
They tend to favor the “Negative Engagement” approach. This is the practice of setting up a Facebook page (or similar) and replicating the ATL work on it. Social Media Experts will tell you that’s all you have to do because while a Social Media Expert can probably show you how to make your page really pretty, they’ll struggle to find ways to build your brand in that space. Worse than that, they’ll be less than confident on managing the expectations of your consumers in that presence, choosing to react rather than respond or initiate.
By contrast, Positive Engagement is a full-on commitment to engaging your consumers not just on your page but on theirs too. It means contact consumers directly, maybe even publicly, especially in the case of negative comment. It means innovating in the direction of your consumers, finding ways to reach them in the context of your brand. This is where having a marketing expert is the only option.
A marketing expert looks at social media and sees how best to leverage it in line with your business goals. A marketing expert will advise you on the best time to enter the social media world and how to do so in the best way. Further and most importantly, a marketing expert will weight your business’ social media presence accordingly, giving it just the right amount of importance and no more, within your marketing strategy. Unlike the Social Media Expert, the marketing expert enjoys an holistic view of your brand’s marketing strategy and knows the role each component (in ATL, BTL and digital) plays in bigger picture, ensuring complete synchronicity within your marketing campaign.
There is no hard and fast way to win at social media marketing but there are ways to minimize the risk while navigating it. And it starts with making sure you have the right people working in the right positions.
*Or possibly PR experts.