Social media is the best venue for marketing today. Research shows that the average consumer uses social media an astonishing two hours a day. As marketers, you have to play that game, but it is a game that changes quickly. It’s also a game that you keep getting told is over: the algorithms have won, the bots have won, and so forth. So far, though, news of social media marketing’s death has been greatly exaggerated.
What social media marketing experts like Neal Schaefer emphasize is the primacy of content. Algorithms are ready and waiting to categorize and shelve your content in various ways, but unique content can resist that. Maybe that is an artfully crafted campaign like Lowe’s FixInSix campaigns, or an outlandish gimmick like Norwegian culture jammer Liam Nilsen giving away shirts with his face printed on them, or Radiohead’s cleverly convoluted album release shenanigans. In all of those cases, the concept fires up people’s “you just have to check this out” nerve, and then social media takes over from there.
The most powerful forms of content are often the interactive. The #BlueSteelSelfie or #ShareYourEars campaigns were not all that complex (“take a selfie”, in essence), but they let people do something and share it on social media, and it spread like wildfire. Contests and quizzes are interactive standbys, and it is well established that they work much better when the results are easily shared on social media.
An even better approach is to use interactive content as a second-tier involvement after primary content. A stellar example of this is the Knorr Love At First Taste campaign, which starts off with unique content: will-they-or-won’t-they videos of couples paired off on the basis of their “flavor profile” of taste in food. That hook leads naturally to viewers wanting to check out their own flavor profile, which they can then share on social media. It was fun, and viral.
Whatever your campaign looks like, you have a wide range of options for turbocharging its launch. It is possible to buy Instagram views, say, or use more organic social marketing interventions, such as brand linking. There are two overarching rules here. First, traffic builds traffic: investing in traffic early on is more than worthwhile, it’s crucial. Second: connectivity is a traffic multiplier. Your brand’s online footprint needs to be wide and well-connected. If you have invested in a brilliant marketing campaign on one platform, it is a small added cost to cross-reference it in another platform.
A final thought: there are plenty of companies willing to take your money to bury negative reviews or negative publicity. Unless you are caught up in a real scandal, that’s misplaced effort, and there is always some danger of it backfiring. If you are doing good, organic, social media marketing, negative reviews will get buried anyway. A negative review, after all, is just another type of content, and usually they are not original, interesting, or viral. Don’t call attention to them; make better content.