Social media marketing strategy is at the top of most marketing agendas at the moment. Social networks have become a part of daily life for most of us. We use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn every day, to gossip, to catch up on news and to discuss the issues of the day. A lot of people check social media before they’ve even gotten out of bed.
That level of popularity has lead to the rise of a whole new set of marketing tactics. Marketers all over the world are working to leverage that popularity and use it to build brand awareness and generate sales. Different marketers will approach social media marketing strategy in different ways. But there are two main categories they fall into, traditional and inbound marketing.
These approaches have two main tactics; advertising for traditional and engagement for inbound marketing. Both of these approaches have value and both are viable marketing strategies. One thing that is becoming clear however is that users prefer inbound marketing engagement to traditional advertising.
Users Reject Traditional Marketing Tactics
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In fact, users really seem to really dislike some versions of Facebook advertising. Last year, Facebook users filed a class action lawsuit over the social networks use of ‘sponsored story’ advertising. Sponsored stories allow advertisers to publicize their brand using the name and photo of a user in an ad stating that the user ‘Liked’ the brand. The lawsuit claimed that users should have control over a company’s ability to profit from their image.
This advertising system effectively taps into the same area that inbound marketing is trying to reach. Inbound marketing is about creating content and engaging with users so that they ‘like’ the brand in both the Facebook and actual sense of the word. The idea is to interact with users so that they take an interest in the brand. That interest then translates to activity, either on Facebook or on an official website, that ultimately leads to a sale.
A social media marketing strategy built on inbound marketing tactics avoids bombarding users with ads. This strategy is about generating content that leads to users promoting the brand of their own volition. It’s the direct opposite of advertising tactics that make use of a users name without their permission.
Users want to be Engaged, not Used
It’s this lack of permission that lead to the lawsuit and lead Facebook to settle the case out of court. That doesn’t appear to be the end of the matter though. Last week, a federal judge rejected the settlement and asked Facebook to clarify how they came up with the settlement. The judge seemed to suggest that the settlement in its current form failed to adequately resolve the situation. He worried that the plaintiffs’ lawyers “may have bargained away something of value.”
This case is just one example of the ways that users are rejecting Facebook advertising. Users clearly don’t want to become part of advertising campaigns. They are quite happy to talk favorably about products and ‘like’ business pages but they want to do this on their own terms. That’s where inbound marketing and engagement comes in. Social Media marketing strategy needs to work with users not use them to advertise. Users who feel engaged with a brand will promote it; they will comment, retweet and interact. Users can act as promoters, but only if they’re made to feel valued. The problem with promoted stories is that it turns users into walking billboards, something most users reject.