One of the greatest challenges facing the digital media world is the lack of understanding of its power. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest, among others, help brands establish thought leadership within their industry and among their customers. But according to Harrison Painter, director of business development for BLASTmedia, most companies view social media in one of two ways: 1) A waste of time, or 2) a panacea for their marketing woes.
Painter spends time a great deal of time consulting with clients, educating them on the impact social media can have on their brands. “That makes my biggest challenge explaining that social media is nothing more than an amplification tool. If your business is doing things well, social media will magnify that. If your business is doing things poorly, social media will magnify that too. Social media is only an extension of your marketing departments, not the end-all, be-all of marketing.”
Harrison said the ever-changing landscape of social media has presented unique challenges in itself for businesses. Marjorie Asturias, president and CEO of Blue Volcano Media, LLC, agrees. “Although social media encompasses a virtual universe of user-generated content communities, including blogs, podcasts and niche forums, most people still think of social media as synonymous with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Unfortunately, that also leaves many businesses vulnerable to sudden changes in the features, layout and even usability of many of these networks.”
Asturais further explained that the recent announcement of Facebook’s upcoming changes to company pages makes “it challenging at best to create any kind of long-term marketing strategy.”
So-called experts have tarnished the industry
Outside of social media, Asturais believes the surplus of inexperienced digital media “consultants” offering their services at below industry rates is affecting the perception of the digital marketing professional. “Although this trend is
thankfully waning, there still remains the perception of social media as a Wild West frontier full of snake-oil salespeople, which unfortunately has tarred the reputation of the industry as a whole,” Asturais added.
Further complicating the issue is the opportunity for anyone to manage a social media campaign. Many businesses solicit help from their intern or their tech savvy neighbor to handle their social media strategies. “Unfortunately, this all too often leads to social media campaigns that reflect a poorly thought-out strategy, awkward syntax, randomly generated
content and long stretches of total silence,” Asturais said.
Businesses must demand more
Asturais believes companies must be willing to diversify their marketing reach in order reap the full benefits the digital
world has to offer. She is beginning to see a shift within the industry as many businesses are starting to “rely less on luck and more on strategy and analytics.” It will be imperative for businesses to expect and demand results from their digital and social media campaigns.
In addition, she believes time will benefit the industry as more and more of the “snake-oil” experts will have been replaced by true marketing professionals and agencies that are committed to successful campaigns that produce real, measurable results.
Education is key
Businesses need to be educated on the value of social media. “Agencies, universities and companies have all developed case studies and white papers demonstrating the efficacy of social media. We need to read them, distribute them to clients and develop them ourselves,” noted Asturais.
“Businesses know they must be in the digital space in 2012 and beyond, so it is through education, constant communication, measurement and strong work ethic that allows our business to grow,” Painter added.
Photo credit: iStock
Angela Stringfellow is a PR and MarComm Consultant and Social Media Strategist offering full-circle marketing solutions to businesses. Angela blogs via Contently.com.