The K.I.S.S. Approach to Social Media Marketing

Let’s face it.  Social media marketing is all the rage right now.  Everyone’s talking about it.  Companies are trying to figure out ways to effectively integrate it into the overall marketing mix.  Firms are springing up everywhere offering their “specialized” services.  Gone are the days when employers simply viewed Facebook as a place where their employees wasted time on the clock.  Instead they are paying their employees to harness the massive amount of marketing power on Facebook.

There’s no doubt about it, social media marketing isn’t going anywhere.  It isn’t just the newest trend or fad.  In fact, projections show that it’s only going to grow bigger.  But the reality is that it can be overwhelming:  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, forums, MySpace, Hi5, and Friendster – the list goes on and on.  There are hundreds of platforms, apps, widgets and services available, with more being created every single day.  You can spend weeks, if not months, just researching the various  platforms and the apps to help you efficiently manage them.  When not planned properly, social media marketing can easily become a black hole where you’ll work hundreds of hours and see little in return.

Earlier this year, a client of mine sent me an article she read that listed the “top 50” social networking platforms.  My immediate response:  good grief, why on earth would someone put something like this together?

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand the rationale behind the creation of this kind of a list.  After all, who wants to spend a bunch of time building a community on a platform that is literally dying?  And while I’m ashamed to admit it, there was one website I had never heard of that seemed to be a real up-and-comer.  So, as irksome as I find these types of lists, I believe that they do offer some value.

The problem with a list like this is that when people see it, they immediately think that they need to be on every single platform listed!  After my client saw this list, she wanted a report put together that included how long it would take to create profiles on all platforms that weren’t currently being utilized and a timeline for establishing an honest-to-goodness “presence” on each one.  It took several phone calls, but she did finally come to her senses and realize that she was asking me to do something that would be the ultimate demise of her social network marketing campaign.

Unfortunately many people share the same mindset as my client: the more places you are, the better your chances of someone finding you.  In theory, it sounds like a solid game plan.  But in reality – and especially given what is already known about effective social media marketing – it’s the farthest thing from the truth.

Social networking involves building communities.  It’s impossible to build effective communities on 50, or even 25, social media platforms.  Why?  Because each site has its own “feel” to it.  Each has its own set of governing rules.  A good example involves LinkedIn and Twitter.  LinkedIn is more professional, Twitter is more casual.  Because of this, you demonstrate two completely different persona’s on each site.   Can you imagine creating 50 different types of personalities for your business?

What’s worse is that if you try to add too many social networking platforms into your marketing mix, you run the risk of doing more harm than good.  You’ll not only find yourself physically drained by the sheer amount of work it takes to maintain each account, but your messaging may get sloppy (remember that your messaging needs to stay consistent with all your different personas!), your response times to comments may suffer, and you may seem disconnected from your target audience – all of which can have devastating effects on your end objective.  It’s a classic case of biting off more than you can chew.

Tabitha’s Takeaway for Success: Keep It Simple!  Don’t try to be everywhere.  Focus on a handful of sites, work to build honest-to-goodness relationships, and add value to whatever social media platforms you choose to use.  Strive for something more than just increasing the number of random Twitter followers or Facebook “likes” you have.   It’s all about forging relationships to create a community of individuals who will be open and receptive to your ideas, products, and suggestions.

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