22 February 2016,

Your social media marketing should be built to fail


By Curtis Kitchen, NAA Director of Communications

Your social media marketing and content marketing should be built to fail.

That thought first struck me through a breakfast conversation I had with my wife – who is a perfect representation of the general consumer.

To paraphrase, she told me advertising and/or marketing on Facebook is a waste of time, especially if you want to reach a younger audience. She also indicated that nobody wants to click on ads, so it’s a waste of time for marketing to take place there. While those points easily could (and should) be debated (not by me with her … I enjoy my marriage), reading between the lines of her comments provided some really great insight into why content marketing and social media marketing work so well. It’s because they “fail” the public’s test as “ads”.

Think of it from this angle:

Like nearly all consumers, my wife doesn’t care to know the ins and outs of marketing best practices, let alone dig into the layered, sometimes complicated relationship between content, social media and consumers. (She shouldn’t worry about such things; that’s for content marketing and social media professionals to lose sleep over.) For marketers, however, the incredibly important takeaway from my wife’s opinion is this: Whether she realizes it or not, all she wants to know, and feel, more importantly, is that she controls a relationship she didn’t even realize she’s in.

For example, from the moment she sees a simple Nike shoe image post on her feed (targeted to her because she has running listed as a Facebook hobby, recently visited Nike’s site, or shown browsing behaviors all logged through tracking pixels), to the moment she clicked it because the shoe was pretty, to the moment she read about the new shoe’s technology helping women her age conquer tougher courses and feel better physically doing it, to the moment she checked “just to see” if they had her size because she, too, wanted to conquer tougher courses thanks to that shoe, to the emotionally-connected moment when “in stock” appeared, to the moment she purchased it … she believed she was in control.

And all the while, she believes social media marketing is a waste of time.

So, who wins here? Her? The company selling the shoe? The marketing department or firm that unobtrusively convinced a consumer through content to make a purchase?

The answer, of course, is … yes.

It doesn’t matter if you spend $10, $100, $1000 or even $1 million on campaigns, if you’re doing social media marketing and content marketing correctly, it will appear as if you’re doing nothing. Your marketing efforts will “fail” as traditional advertising, slipping past consumers’ ad radars and into their psyches, which positions your product or brand even more firmly than it was previously.

The ad radar: How to beat it

Here are a few quick tips to help you “fail” better.

Headline: As B-2-C has evolved into a relationship, it stands to reason that relationship rules apply. Therefore, screaming never works, and your social media or content marketing headline shouldn’t either. Depending on the platform, you have room to work, especially on Facebook. Be kind. Be gentle. Be inviting. Above all else, be interesting. Use your data to identify what drives your consumer group and build brand-centric messaging that communicates using those driving words.

Copy: Again, depending what platform you’re using your copy will need to abide by different rules. On Facebook, for example, your ad can only have 20% text. This makes your artwork incredibly valuable, and the words you choose even more so. It can’t be stressed enough – use data. Use a keyword search as it relates to your consumers to find out what words draw them most. Build your copy with those words. In other words, speak their language and connect with them. Remember, the purpose to all of this is to engage and build a relationship.

Images: The same concepts for copy can be applied to images (should your A/B testing prove to show your audience wants them). Sharp, clear images depicting those things that resonate most deeply with your buyers and sellers. Use those and avoid images that you think just “look cool.” Apply data and science; not gut feel. And, if something feels culturally risky, don’t do it. The potential harm to your brand always far outweighs any potential flash notoriety.

So, how will you know all of this is working?

Your social media Key Performance Indicators (in addition to your site KPIs) will show increased engagement, increased web traffic, and, eventually, increased conversions from leads to purchases. (That’s all provided your entire sales conversion funnel process is in good shape, of course.)

If you have increased social media marketing and content marketing tactics, but you aren’t seeing results, keep a few things in mind: 1) these practices take time, so if you just started, let things work before bailing; and, 2) if you’ve been trying for months to no avail, use all the relevant data you can to make sure your copy and content are positioned to play favorably to your demographic.

Get that in line, and your campaigns will be better set up to “fail” to your brand’s benefit.