Networks Are People

Applying industrialized marketing techniques to social media is flawed. Be human, please.

With more than two billion people using it worldwide, no one can deny the power of social media to reach consumers. It can reach them at scale, hitting millions of eyeballs in a matter of seconds.

It can reach them with surgical precision, targeting demographics, interests and geography to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Of course for a marketer, this changes everything.

But are you changing along with it? In the context of something this powerful, are you still looking at social media as simply a more effective way to broadcast your message? Because if you are, you’re leaving the loop wide open.

The reason social media has changed everything isn’t the fact that it has made it easier to reach more people. It’s not simply a better billboard. Social media has changed everything because it has made brand communication a two-way street.

More social, I guess you could say.

Consumers now have a way to directly connect with brands in a very public way.

They can ask, complain, compliment and otherwise banter directly with brands like never before.

There’s an old-fashioned word for this: conversation (click to tweet).

You don’t make a friend by showing them a funny picture. You don’t win over your future spouse by saying something insightful and walking away. You may get their attention like that, but if you want to create an emotional connection, you must interact. This always begins with conversation.

When someone talks to you about your brand, you have grabbed their attention.

If you’re lucky, it could be because they like you. Or, it might be because they don’t like you. But as is true with any social relationship, closing that conversation loop with the consumer is the only way you can strengthen, steer and even change that sentiment.

You cannot have a conversation with your consumer via a billboard, a TV commercial, an article or even a banner ad. You can, however, do this on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

So make your real-time memes. Tell those visual stories. Create that brilliant content.

But don’t just put it out there and walk away. Be present to extend the conversation as it comes back to you. Close that loop.

Every comment, and every share – each one of those reactions represents an opportunity to start a conversation that has the potential to win a true fan, create a strong advocate, or earn a loyal customer.

Eyeballs are great, but hearts are greater.

This article was originally written for the Ketchum Digital & Social Almanac 2016. Please follow the link to read all of the trends that we identified and download the complete 60-page book.