by Tony Vidler
I keep hearing that social media marketing sucks for professional services . Mostly that comes from the people in professional services who are trying to market themselves using social media, so they should know if a particular type of marketing sucks or not.
If it isn’t working it must suck, right? “Working” generally means “getting new prospects for our services “. According to many, social media marketing isn’t doing that for them; therefore it sucks.
Usually when I hear this from someone I go and have a quiet little look at what they are doing on social media, and it seems pretty obvious to me why social as a marketing strategy sucks for them. In descending order of importance:
Social media marketing sucks just as much as any other form of marketing which is done poorly. We could just as easily replace the term “social media” with “print advertising”….as that would suck just as much in terms of “working” if the same mistakes were being made.
The problem isn’t the medium; the problem is the business using the medium. That is what sucks at marketing.
When there is no clear idea about what it is that the business is trying to achieve with its marketing there is typically a mis-match between expectations and actual behaviour. For example: when a business says “we must use social because everyone says it is the right way forward” (or words to that effect), there is an inherent expectation that this will help drive new business opportunities to the practice. it must do, because that is what marketing does, right?
But then the business spends all of its efforts on the social media channels doing brand positioning and brand promotion. The marketing behaviour of the business is not consistent with their expectations – they are not doing things with social media that will create immediate opportunities but are instead engaging in activities which may create greater confidence in their brand over the longer term.
In that example the strategy sucks.
Alternatively, a business sets up social media channels and perhaps even puts some really good engaging stuff on them. But then doesn’t promote those channels and let the world know that they exist. Forget that nonsense about building a better mousetrap and the world beating a path to your door. Prospects do not spend their evenings trawling around the Facebook pages of as many accounting practices as they can, or reading LinkedIn profiles of as many financial planners as they can, simply with a view to trying to find the perfect one.
You have to do some things to drive people towards these marketing channels. Just putting them out there as a isolated tactic will lead to disappointing results. At the very least, a firm needs to put about as much effort into getting their SEO right as they do in getting their social media right, because search is the number 1 tool for driving prospective clients (being people who are actively looking for the sort of service you provide) to your social media channels.
The third major reason for social media marketing flat-lining for a firm is that it is all one way communication. The firm is putting out stuff for people to read maybe, but that is about it. Too much generic one-size-fits-all bland content that is delivered one way….”read what we have to say“….but no actual interaction with the other human beings that the firm is trying to appeal to as prospective clients.
The last is a pet peeve of mine if I am honest: way too much stuff from way too many firms on social media which could be put into the category of “look how wonderful I am”.
Honestly…who really thinks that prospects want to see a never ending stream of pictures and statements about buying bigger boats and cars or holidaying in exotic locations? Perhaps putting a post up about the civic duty award received is interesting…once. Not every day for 3 weeks though. Worse though is constant and blatant product or service plugs – and even worse still is when it is precisely the same wording and same plug day after day after day after day…..
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with using social media for a bit of a plug here or there for the business – you are trying to market the business after all and prospects get that and are largely ok with it – it is about balancing the content mix. It really is a fairly small proportion of the population who tune into the infomercial channels every day for their entertainment or education….the overwhelming majority of the population do not consider constant advertising to be either entertaining or informative. Stop that.
In today’s digital world social media can be a fabulous marketing tactic – or it can suck. The difference between the two is remembering the various elements that are needed to make it work, and then giving them all the right amount of attention.
SEO is how they find you. Social media is how prospects & clients decide whether to listen to you. Content is why they engage with you and remember you. You need all of them to be given the proper attention if you do want social media marketing to work for you business, because “social” cannot work in isolation. Not in any sense of the word can “social” be something which is done alone, can it? A social network where it was just me sharing my thoughts about me,with me wouldn’t be very social would it?
Actually, it would suck.
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