Is social media marketing dying?  That’s the question asked by Joe Hall in Saturday’s edition of Cup of Joe on Marketing Pilgrim.  He got a lot of folks agreeing with him, yet when I shared his thesis on Google+, I got a lot of pushback.  So, I ask YOU the questions, IS SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING DYING?

Here’s my answer — NO.  I don’t think social media marketing is dying.  I DO think people are doing social media marketing wrong, so they’re not getting the results they hoped.  If you go into social media marketing understanding how to do it right — you will find social media marketing very successful.

Doing Social Media Marketing Right

1. Social media marketing isn’t traditional advertising

You can’t use social media marketing like traditional advertising by sending press releases or advertising through social channels.  Social media marketing isn’t like ABC — you don’t tap into an existing network of millions.  Instead, you have to build a network.  So, you need quality programming (content) to attract people to your network and to get them to share your content with their friends.  Simply putting “Follow us on Twitter” at the bottom of your print ad or at the end of your commercial doesn’t do anything.

2. Social media marketing takes time

You won’t get results from your social media marketing campaign overnight.  If you need something NOW, use traditional advertising.  It takes time for a social media marketing campaign to spread through your network and even longer for social media marketing efforts to show up in your bottom line.

3. Social media marketing takes effort

With traditional advertising, you create a message once, then broadcast it or print if lots of times.  Social media marketing doesn’t work like that. You need fresh content consistently and you have to adapt your content for different social platforms, just like you do traditional advertising.  This means creating and spreading content every day (or at least several times a week).

4. Social media marketing takes money

The myth that social media marketing is free persists.  Certainly compared with the millions it might cost for traditional advertising, social media marketing is less expensive, but it still takes money to do it right.  You’ll need quality hosting web designers, graphics design, and content managers.  Some of this you might do yourself — and you can bootstrap your start-up effectively with little cost — but ultimately, you’ll need people to optimize your success.

5. Social media marketing is changing

What worked yesterday might not work today.  Platforms change, consumers change, the landscape changes.  Look at recent changes to Facebook such as retiring FBML (Facebook Mark-up Language), security for tabs, and the new stream feature.  Changes challenge marketers to develop new tactics for success.

6. Social networks are dialogues not monologues

Social networks are constructed so people can talk to their friends.  If you talk to them there, they want to talk back.  You need to be prepared for criticism, as even the best companies have folks who aren’t happy.  Shutting down conversations you don’t like has a very high piss-off quotient.  This means you have to have the rest of your marketing act together — building good products, delivering value, and making it easy for customers to get what they want, when they want, where they want.  Then, develop responses to complaints so when they inevitably appear on your fan page or Twitter feed, you have a response ready to defuse the situation.

7. Social media marketing means celebrating your target audience

Social networks are about “them” not you.  They look more like real friendships; requiring self-disclosure, support, caring, and open communication.  You need to step from behind the screen and be a real person, with real feelings and foibles.  You need to embrace your target audience — they’re helping you and you need to recognize their efforts.  If you only write or do things to improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you may lose out on SMO (Social Media Optimization).

Your Turn

Have I left anything off? What are your tactics for keeping your social media marketing efforts alive?  Please share with us in the comments below.