The power of the long view to build business with social media

Social media is changing the way marketing works, but in ways not always easily understood. 

What’s changing in the world of marketing? Really, what in life and business isn’t being changed by technology? Clearly each and every marketplace is expanding fast, cluttering up buyers’ heads with product options and marketing and ad content. 

Social media offers a way get past all of that, to connect to customers. This is how social media interaction works

Changes in marketing are so significant that even marketing agencies are struggling to keep up with finding and training talent. WSJ reports on Ad Staffers Going Back to School to Learn Digital. Of particular poignancy is paragraph seven which discusses the talent shortage blame game between agencies and clients.

We are undergoing large-scale transformation, introduction of new marketing and business models, new ways of thinking. Companies will not develop brand and marketing competency for the new world by applying new tactics to old models. Learning new models requires conceptual thinking. 

What are the obstacles to learning the new social marketing?

Immediate sales priorities, for one. Tough competition and demands for growth from stakeholders and business leaders have forced attention and energy to the near-term—if not immediate—results. The expectation from digital marketing and social media is to show how the campaign generated store traffic and transactions. 

That’s how the game is measured, right? 

I call this near-sighted marketing. It’s measurable and transactional and close to sales and finance so it’s on the short list of what get’s budget approval. But the challenges so many businesses face are bigger than those that can be solved by focusing on the few buyers who already buy have their hands on their wallets.

Customers have many options and are often are well aware of many good choices. In situations where a company has a unique offering that consumers have never heard of before, they can either continue to live without, use (inferior) alternatives. In this case the job of marketing is to introduce something new and find ways to invite would-be users to give it a try. How long was it that you knew of the internet, before your company had its first website? How long from knowing of linkedIn before building a profile and connecting to 500+ users? How long to switch to paperless bank statements? We’re talking about the adoption curve. 

The long view for growing a brand means taking the necessary time. 

Building a brand is not instant, and can’t be bought. Of course the biggest ad budgets can make an impact. For those who say advertising puts the control in your hands and provides the fastest visibility, let’s look at the cost of getting visibility in the increasingly cluttered media world, and piercing peoples’ well-kept gates to protect against the noise and overload. For all others, read on. Building a brand calls for being in the right conversations with the right people at appropriate times; for introducing new offerings and reasons why; for giving people information about better ways to get things done or to enjoy an experience; for encouraging recommendations from people who have already given it a try (the early adopters).

From trial to preference via relationship.

Brands are the enduring reason why customers buy. Brands stand for a set of feelings, beliefs, ideas, evidence and intuition, preference and behavior about buying and using a product. We assign potent feelings of trust and loyalty to brands, business and consumer alike. 

Advertising can’t force a product into a consumer’s awareness and become a trusted brand. Gaining trust and loyalty takes time, repetition, evidence of other users’ positive sentiment, education and testing it out. From there to become a relationship a with history of interaction, sense of connection, association or involvement and familiarity. 

Social media can build relationships.

With emphasis on “can,” not “will.” Just because a business uses social media doesn’t mean they are building relationships. Certainly not if they are using social as another media channel for advertising. 

Businesses HAVE a long view for building relationships. 

Business leaders are passionate. About their people, their product, serving their customers. They understand these things happen over time, and require trust and consistency. They know they need to give first before receiving. They know they need to provide compelling reasons, experiences and good will to be able to attract talent as well as the next customer. 

Why should marketing work any differently? 

Along with the near-term need to attract customers (and new talent) to the business, companies can also develop a long-view for building up the brand. In addition to courting near-term transactions, they can create opportunity for recurring interaction to build out new communities of users. By looking to the very human and relational insights of good leaders, we can create plans that emphasize listening, offer value before selling, provide support, educate, illustrate, tell and show, are responsive. 

Let’s not rush the goose for it’s golden eggs.

Tips, tricks and tactics to drive faster clicks and purchases are of limited value. In the long view the direct way doesn’t lead to the greatest heights. It can all start with interaction, and when used properly, social media provides so many wonderful opportunities for interaction.