Social Media Marketing: Chasing Likes and Other Ad Agency Mistakes

With 1 of every 5 online minutes being spent on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, ad agencies and marketers are scrambling to get their brands into the social party. While some of us are pushing our way in by employing the same 1-way mass tactics used in TV and print, others have swung too far the other way, blindly chasing likes and fan counts. Both approaches miss out on social media's true potential and they most often point to 3 all-too-common mistakes in thinking.

Believing Content is Still King
Sure, great content delivered in the proper context still delivers reach and frequency in whatever mass channels we pursue, including digital. Smart online ad spends and compelling sites and videos can drive big metrics. But this carry-over mentality from the GRP days of TV falls short in social media. Generating views, likes and comments on our brand's social pages and profiles aren't lofty enough goals.

Chasing Views, Likes, and Comments
A Facebook fan simply watching our video or reading a brand post is a lost opportunity. Even comments, likes, and app engagements aren't enough since propagation is limited to fleeting, mostly unseen blips in a few friends' tickers. Most Facebook time is spent on personal profiles and news feeds--not on brand Pages as we'd like to believe. True social media success lies in an agency's ability to get brand content into those streams, and this happens best when fans talk directly to their friends on our brands' behalf. Facebook is actively educating agencies in how to think "Social By Design", making a fan's friend network an integral part of the experience. Put another way, if a fan has zero friends and the app or campaign still works then it doesn't belong on Facebook. The real goal is to get people to include brand content in their own conversations with their friends, which leads us to mistake #3...

Thinking We're Part of the Conversation
People chat socially with their friends. Not with brands. They may write the occasional response to a brand post or start a thread on their favorite brand's wall but it's still all about them. As agencies the best we can hope for is to inject ourselves at the right time to provide value and let people know we're there. Like a parent in a big crowd of kids, we want them to know we support them but we know we'll never really be a part of their conversation. Throw in a timely comment or respond when they ask something -- be properly engaged -- but understand it's their time with their friends. It isn't about us or our brands.

Look to campaigns like Huggies Hong Kong (sharing baby photos with friends) and 1-800-FLOWERS (telling your friends which flowers you like the best) for some recent effective examples. Getting our clients' brands into news feeds doesn't have to be a complex or expensive investment. But if done right it can lead to unprecedented reach and advertising success in an increasingly social online world.