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We recently inherited a bucket of wooden blocks for our 1-year old son that my husband and I have taken great delight in building different structures from. Only to have him gleefully destroy them… (we’re hoping this is normal development, and not a sign of things to come…)
The block bucket came with a nifty lid featuring cutouts of the various block shapes. So as dutiful parents, when trying to teach Master M to pack up his toys, we did The Right Thing and showed him how to put the square blocks through the square hole, cylinders through the round hole, triangles through the triangle hole etc…
Much to our dismay, he proceeded to simply put all blocks through the square hole!
So we tried showing him the different shapes, and encouraging him to match up the blocks and holes.
Nope. Everything through the square hole.
Because he noticed what we didn’t; that they all fit through the square hole… In fact, if you turned the blocks in different ways, many of them fit through many of the different shaped holes.
This made me stop and think.
I consider myself a fairly creative thinker; but at what point did I get brainwashed into matching the shapes and the holes and neglecting to notice that different shapes DO fit through different holes!?
It also made me realise that it is very easy to do this with digital and social media marketing, and that I have been guilty of it with both my own marketing, and when developing recommendations for clients!
Sometimes we get caught up in what We Know To Be True, and forget to consider the alternatives. Sometimes this is due to habit, or time restraints, and sometimes What We Always Do does work.
But sometimes it doesn’t…
Here are a few examples of when The Rules of Digital and Social Media Marketing DON’T fit…
1. You HAVE to be on social media
It’s almost seen as expected that after you register your business name, and register your website domain, you set up ALL the social media channels!
Quite often I see businesses who have gone too far, and have set up a lot of accounts, that they can’t – or don’t know how to – manage. I’ve also seen some website templates that come with the stock standard Facebook and Twitter icons, that either doesn’t link anywhere or have accounts set up just because the logo was in the website design!
Late last year I received an enquiry from an electrician who had been told to get in touch with me because he “had to have a Facebook Page” for his new business.
When I called him to discuss it, he seemed slightly hostile. I now know him to be an incredibly nice person, but I realised quickly that he was bracing himself for the hard sell he expected from me. He certainly wasn’t expecting me to say:
“I’m not sure you need a Facebook Page…”
I had done some preliminary research before calling and couldn’t quickly find any examples of electricians, or other tradespeople who were nailing social media marketing (not that this means he couldn’t be the first!)
I explained to him the challenges that a lot of small businesses are facing with their Facebook Pages and other social media channels, battling for organic reach in the News Feed. And the importance of posting regularly to assist with achieving this, as well as giving any followers a reason to Like the Page in the first place.
Through our conversation (which quickly became very friendly) we were able to come up with a lot of potential and useful content updates that he could share on the Page. And there was a lot!
Following that initial conversation we developed a simple social media strategy, set up the Page, had a couple of training sessions, and he’s on his way!
He opted to take a gradual growth approach, rather than paid push, so the Page is slowly building a community that engages with his great mix of content updates.
We also discussed other relevant social media channels for his business, which will come down the track once the Facebook Page is more established, and the time required can be balanced with the business requirements.
2. You HAVE to use X social media channel for your industry
My recommendations are littered with the word “relevant”.
Use “relevant” social media channels, that are “relevant” to your audience, aims and updates etc…
I’m certainly not going to throw the relevancy out with the blocks, but we need to consider why we believe a particular social media channel is relevant (or “right”) for a business.
It’s easy to say: “well you’re a professional organisation, so you need to use LinkedIn and Twitter, forget about Facebook and those other “fun” social channels…”
I have worked for over 3 years with a commercial construction business who had just set up their Facebook Page before engaging me to manage their social media channels.
I questioned the “relevancy” of this channel at the time, and recently admitted to them that I was glad they had proved me wrong, as over the years it has attracted a highly active community who regularly engages with its updates. Keep in mind we have worked out what updates are “right” and “relevant” for the Page and its community, but it does work.
In this case, the company regularly sources high-quality photos and videos of their high rise construction projects. Really impressive photos. And these are a great fit for Facebook’s visual News Feed.
We have also recently started an Instagram account for them, again to showcase their striking photos and videos. This is a great test for this very topic, as “construction” doesn’t naturally “fit” with Instagram. However, the initial response has been positive and I’m confident it will continue to grow.
3. You HAVE to post X number of updates per day/week/month
As a provider of both social media management services, and digital and social media marketing recommendations, I find it useful to provide guidelines for how many updates to share on the accounts per day/week/fortnight/month etc.
It provides accountability, makes it easier to plan ahead, and provides a structure that helps support building a habit of publishing regular updates (which IS a good thing).
However, it can also force us into posting for posting’s sake, and sometimes sharing irrelevant or low-quality updates just to meet our self-imposed quota.
This is a tricky one, as we do know that for social media channels that use algorithms to display content to users – *ahem Facebook* – it DOES help to be posting content regularly. But if this is poor quality content that your audience doesn’t respond to anyway, then it can actually have a negative effect!
Ideally, we want to have a stream of high quality, relevant content updates that our community will be interested in that we can share regularly. But don’t force it if it’s not there. Use posting guidelines for what they are: a guide.
Interestingly, when researching and preparing this post, the following article popped up in my Facebook News Feed: Content Marketers: Stop Doing 70% of What You’re Doing
How’s that for relevancy!?
It is easy to fall into these traps, and in many cases, we follow these habits because they generally DO work, but they can also limit us.
So I am VERY grateful to my contrary son for pointing this out to me, and from now on won’t be so quick to get all matchy-matchy with what I automatically believe to be true, but stop and think: “… but could it fit through another hole…?”
What digital and social media marketing habits do you now question? Let me know in the comments!