I have a hammer, and I use it a lot around the house. I can swing that thing pretty good, too. In fact, I can hit a lot of stuff with that hammer and enjoy working around the house on little jobs with it. I use it to hang pictures or when I need to break something up.
Yes, I’ve owned that hammer for some time. But I don’t consider myself a carpenter just because I own it, and I don’t try to build a house with it. That’s because I know I’m not an expert at home construction.
Why is it then that people who enjoy something as a hobby, suddenly feel that they have the expertise to do it professionally?
Here’s an example of what I mean. Prior to the year 2000, professional video production was a craft that was performed by those who had been trained, had experience, and understood how to do it effectively.
There was skill involved in manipulating the technical controls of the professional video camera to get it to photograph images that were pleasing, in lighting a scene so that it photographed effectively, in recording professional quality audio, and in editing video into a coherent program that achieved a communication objective.
These tasks required training and years of experience to master.
But as technology costs dropped at the turn of the century, many who could have never afforded a professional video camera before, were suddenly able to buy cameras with decent quality. Some of them began to consider themselves as video producers and sold their services to businesses. The result was low cost, low quality video programs that did not communicate effectively.
For businesses that chose to hire the guy who charged $300 for a marketing video, it was a case of “You get what you pay for.” Often times, the next time they needed a video program produced, they budged for an expert.
In many regards, I see the same thing happening today with social marketing. I see businesses that don’t understand social media use an inexperienced person instead of hiring an expert.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines an expert as someone who is “…very skillful” or “one who is well-informed in some specific field.” It doesn’t mean you know everything about a given field, but it certainly implies that you know more than the average untrained, inexperienced person
As social media grew over the last few years, many small or medium sized businesses have chosen to use their own staff to post to social sites. That’s fine if you don’t intend to use social media as true marketing channels. But, if that’s the case, then why pay someone to do it at all?
Social media need to be considered as new marketing channels, and thus, the communication across them needs to support a marketing goal.
Using social media for marketing first requires that a social marketing strategy or plan be adopted. To achieve this requires not only an understanding of basic marketing principles, but also a working knowledge of effective social marketing practices. This plan should complement your general marketing plan and may even share the same goals. You should develop one that is specific to social media, though, since these channels are quite different than traditional ones.
Such a plan identifies the goal of the communication, the type of content that should be used to support that goal, the social sites that best support the goal, and the frequency of posts. You should also determine the audience you want to reach, and the best method for reaching them.
Business users should also understand that social media marketing does not follow the theory of, “If you build it, they will come.” In other words, just because you’re posting to Facebook, does not mean followers will flock to your business page. You will need to develop a strategy to attract followers and grow your online audience, as well.
Developing and implementing these social marketing plans require trained and experienced professionals to ensure success, just as a set of detailed blueprints require an experienced carpenter to follow them in order to build a home.
Like a hammer, social media is a tool that is used to carry out your marketing plans. Also, like a hammer, anyone can use one. But believe me when I tell you, you don’t want to trust just anyone with a hammer to build your next home. You’ll want to hire an expert.
You also don’t want to trust just anyone with your public, marketing communications. You’ll want to hire an expert here, as well.