Social media marketing and the mad electrician.

social media marketerSocial media is not something you just add on to your existing marketing plan.

It won’t work if you say, “Hey, last quarter we tried coupons, this month let’s try social media.” It’s not an advertising medium.

If you want social media to really work, you have to pull apart your whole marketing plan, and your company culture, and rebuild everything with “social” at its heart.

I have worked with a couple of different companies over the last little while, both of them in the B2C space, both of them in their first year of business. But they have had very different levels of success with social media.

The first company built its company and its marketing plan along traditional lines. Old school marketing. And then they decided to give social media a try. They just bolted it on.

It didn’t work.

The second company was more of a “native” web business. Its founders were younger and had grown up with the web. This business had “social” at its core. Everything – from sales, to customer service, and to marketing – revolved around social media. In fact, even the way people communicated within the company took place on a social platform.

As you will have guessed, social media is working really well for the second company.

It’s not that the founders of the first company were dumb. Far from it. Their traditional marketing plan was really good, and it worked very well. But what they failed to understand is that social media marketing doesn’t work when you just use it as an add-on to traditional marketing.

When I tried to help this company, they grew impatient with me. They didn’t understand why I couldn’t just charge ahead and “do” the social media part.

And I grew impatient, trying to burrow in like a mad electrician, and plug “social” into the heart of everything they were doing on the traditional side. I met a lot of resistance. In the end, we parted company.

Will their business fail as a result of not understanding social media marketing? Probably not. They’re smart people and will do well with their traditional routes. But I do think they are missing an opportunity to engage with hundreds of thousands or even millions of people who would have become customers if only the company were genuinely social.

And it’s not that a company needs to be on the leading edge of online marketing to understand this.

The web has always been social. Even before the web, when the Internet ran without browsers, I remember joining discussion lists. And when web browsers appeared, I joined forums. It was 100% social back then. Social media marketing is simply the current term to describe something that has always been fundamental to communicating online.

The trouble is, most companies still don’t get it. They work with traditional marketing platforms instead of creating a social core, and building out from there.

They think they can use social media as an add-on, on the outside, instead of plugging into the heart of their business, deep on the inside.

They can’t.

About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach.

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1 thought on “Social media marketing and the mad electrician.”

  1. Nick, as is so often the case, I feel compelled to respond.

    Neither a fan-boy of Nick Usborne nor a detractor, I want to ask you one simple question…and then append it with some argument to support my point.

    What IS “social”?

    In your post above this comment, you are leaving a lot unsaid. Though I appreciate the point that I think you are making and I believe that you are correct in what you are saying, what do you mean when you apply the word “social” before the word “media”?

    Coca Cola does “social”. General Motors have whole departments full of people paid to ensure that General Motors is “social”. Neither are “social” to me.

    I strongly believe that you are describing something different and I am NOT trying to be a smart-ass. I genuinely want to read your definition of that word in the context with which you so clearly use it.

    I live on a different continent from you yet I read you loud and clear. I make my living as an insignificant contractor, occasionally as a mad electrician but mostly as a plank.

    (definition of a plank: something you put in place so that you can walk from one side of a latrine ditch to the other without getting your feet dirty).

    Where IS the definitive “Nick Usborne Cookery Book of Social Media Affordable Meals”?

    Organic and responsibly-sourced ideas that won’t burn a hole in your social conscience.


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