Brace yourself. What I’m about to type might be a bit controversial – not every brand or company should be on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
There. I’ve said it. I’ve dared to suggest not using social media. But before I get thrown out of the Marketing Club for daring to speak ill of social media – let me just clarify…
Yes social media is an exciting new channel and a great way of communicating with many different audiences but just because a social media channel exists, it doesn’t mean you should be using it. If you’re sitting there trying to work out how to use [insert latest social media tool here] then maybe the answer is more simple than you think. You shouldn’t. Not every social media channel is right for your company, organisation or brand.
Yet it still puzzles me why some marketers rush to embrace ‘the next big thing’, not because it’s right for the brand, the company or the objective at hand but because ‘everyone else is doing it’. And when they do utilise that next big thing, they don’t tend to do a great job of it. Why? Because the focus is on ‘doing something’ rather than ‘doing the right thing’.
For those of us who can remember that far back, we saw this with the birth of websites where a plethora of badly laid out, badly designed sites appeared that did nothing for the brand and were simply an online version of an organisation’s printed brochure. But the rush to get online was insatiable. More recently we’ve seen QR codes appearing in the most bizarre of places – from revolving posters to the side of buses. Now, as tempted as I am to access a website via a QR code, I’m not running down Oxford Street, smartphone outstretched, in pursuit of the number 55 or loitering at a poster site waiting for said poster to appear again. There seems to be a rush to use these things without really thinking them through and social media is no different.
This is where I suggest we take inspiration, and dare I say direction, from a somewhat unusual source in marketing intelligence – the 1993 film, Jurassic Park.
There is a key point in the film, the part where everything goes a little bit wrong – security fences fail, dinosaurs escape, people get eaten – when Jeff Goldblum’s character, in response to the accusation of being anti-progress, states that they “were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should”.
For me this is the killer question when it comes to any company approaching its social media strategy but one that rarely gets asked.
When I’ve spoken to companies about their social media activity it strikes me that many are ‘doing’ social media but not really sure why. They have a Twitter account – but aren’t really sure if they are using it right. They have a LinkedIn page – but aren’t sure what they are supposed to do with it. They have a Facebook page – it’s blank and they’re not really sure why they’ve got one. One may ask why so many people are rushing ahead with execution without any clear strategy, guidelines or purpose? It seems madness. But as this is their social media presence these questions of strategy and purpose are just glossed over because… well… because we have to have a Facebook page don’t we? Well actually no, you don’t.
So, before rushing off to set up your page on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest or any number of social sites, first ask yourself the Jurassic Park question: yes you can set up the page, but should you? What exactly are you trying to achieve and is it right for your audience, your business and your brand?