Social networking sites are not at all like they are hyped up to be. But, when properly used for relationship marketing, they can be extremely valuable.
In many ways, “relationship marketing” would be well-fitted to a different name. The process, which involves marketing products using inbound methods through established relationships, whether business or personal, implies something that is just not true in business: that marketing can happen without a relationship. Perhaps it is more fitting, then, that “relationship marketing” becomes simply “marketing.”
Of course, with all the impersonal and utterly pervasive marketing methods out there, the umbrella-style label simply would not work. However, from the sea of modern impersonal and interruptive marketing has emerged a trend in technology that could make marketing return to its relationship-based roots. That technological trend, of course, is the recent explosion and multiplication of social media websites.
The Social Network Marketing Hype
Twitter, Facebook, and the like are sources of endless hype for marketing consultancy groups. They are “packed with potential,” “incredible for businesses,” and “unbeatable” for ROI, or at least they are if people focus on the hype and discussion surrounding it. Touted as the ultimate online marketing platform, social media appears to be getting off to a thrilling start.
Of course, there is more to marketing than just hype. In fact, most marketers care less about hype than they do results. While social media is often paraded as the ultimate marketing platform, it rarely lives up to its expectations. Why?
Part of the problem has to do with a gross misunderstanding of how social media can help businesses. Marketed by consultants and commentators as a do-all solution, businesses that simply are not suited to social media get the impression that they are suited to social media, and invest accordingly.
Approaching Social Networks Properly
Social networks, as much as it may be hyped in the opposite direction, is not very marketer-friendly. Audiences on such sites openly disrespect marketers, sometimes to the point where they block the so-called “spammers” out of conversations entirely.
Social media marketers should beat the hate by being nice, being honest, and being clear in what they plan to do. There is no need to disclose sales figures and social media targets, but when challenged in their intentions, they should stand up and defend themselves. Social media does not disrespect marketers as a whole; it disrespects and disrupts aggressive and unwanted marketers.
Social networks are not at all the ultimate online marketing platform most consultancy groups make them out to be. However, with a solid understanding of what social media audiences want and what social networking websites are capable of, online entrepreneurs can actually pursue effective social network marketing.