I just came back from a networking lunch. I had a fantastic time getting to know two other professionals in fields that are totally different from mine: law and finance. As you can imagine, they had super-cool stories to share -- crimes, fraud, embezzlement and other juicy things that they see every day.
Then, the talk turned to what I do: marketing. And both basically said, "So, you do social media?"
And my thoughts immediately turned to a late-night, wine-fueled conversation I recently had with an old colleague and friend for life who is among the best marketers I have ever met. We were talking about the difference between social media natives - those who simply live, breathe and use social media without thinking about it -- and people who just want to learn how to, or hire someone to, "do social media."
Basically, we concluded, if you need to figure out how to "do" social media, you are probably doing it wrong. The fact is, if you don't already know how to interact, engage and draw people in, picking a few hashtags and posting randomly isn't going to move the needle.
Social media is a tool for getting your brand and your message out. It isn't a branding exercise in and of itself, and it is never a standalone. It is part of an overall, integrated strategy. And it has to be as natural as breathing.
But if you view social media as some mystical thing to tack onto your marketing program, you'll likely be disappointed in the results.
Earlier this year, our team started working with the New England Apparel Club (NEAC), a professional organization comprised of manufacturers' reps in the fashion industry, that puts on a series of industry trade shows. This is a group that was MADE for Instagram. Their business is highly visual, and an incredibly popular topic on the platform: fashion & style. But their Instagram strategy was murky. They didn't actually feature clothes that often on their feed.
Because the attendees at their shows are often small, local boutiques as well as department stores, many of their posts were focused on small business issues, or #shoplocal campaigns. It felt a little like someone read an article on "how to do social media" and found some hashtags, and dates on the calendar, and built the entire program around that.
However, this did nothing to show people who had never been to their shows why they really needed to check them out. Luckily for NEAC, we love fashion and we love Instagram for scoping out cool outfits and makeup looks. We took control of their feed and turned it into a fashion blog, changing their profile to read: "Curating all things #fashion on Instagram and at our industry trade shows."
In three months, their followers, engagement, and reach have increased exponentially, and they've seen larger, NY-based fashion shows, well-known fashion bloggers, and innovative fashion brands interacting with, liking and commenting on their posts.
The point is - you can't effectively "do" social media if you don't "live" social media. Make sure you remember that as you think about whether you're leveraging those channels enough.