Putting the Media Back In Social Media

Now that social media is such a “hot” topic (and has been for a while) it seems like businesses are scrambling to setup their pages and profiles, vying for fans and followers like it’s going out of style.

Plenty of these network newcomers setup great landing pages, master their schedulers to perfectly time tweets, and have all the right ads targeted at all the right consumers.

They’ve been told by coaches and gurus to get online, to get out there and connect with the masses through the magical powers of the internet…

And they’ve devised all of the best strategies to deliver a focused campaign at just the right moment…

Somehow, though, they have missed the point…

The term says it all: SOCIAL MEDIA.

Putting the MEDIA Back In Social Media

Of course the social component is there – the hundreds of millions of users on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and more create the largest “social” environment the world has ever known. A company’s existence in this environment makes them an innate part of it, ready to communicate en masse…

But what about the media?

Media represents content, entertainment, and information for consumption by the expansive online society.

This DOES NOT mean constant advertisement!

On television, there are the programs, and the commercials, and viewers recognize them as such. While the commercials are effective ways of introducing products or promoting sales, viewers watch television for the programs, and most avoid the commercials (thanks to DVR and Tivo!) as best they can.

The same is true for magazines, radio, newspapers, you name it…

The people come for the media… not the advertisements or brand messages, no matter how carefully executed.

The draw is the same across the board – people want the content. It’s the reason they read magazines or watch television shows, the reason they visit websites or seek out an online video in the first place.

What corporate and small business social media needs is an injection of MEDIA into their campaigns. People want to be engaged and entertained, whether through comedy, drama, art, or simply interesting, topic-related information.

Remember when social networking sites like Livejournal and Myspace were first emerging?

The biggest draw was for people to tell their stories, to share photos and music…

Content was at the core.

The most widely used sites have only become more sophisticated, and now streaming video or linking out to other informative or entertaining sites is easier than ever.

Media (or simply “content” in online parlance) is what drives these sites along.

When a story or video “goes viral,” it’s because it was ripe for consumption by the audience. The content itself is so engaging that people want to consume it. There’s no convincing or targeting going on here… it’s natural attraction to something worth checking out.

Putting the MEDIA Back In Social Media

The bottom line is engagement.

If your viewers aren’t enjoying their experience, whether reading about stock market trends or watching a funny video, they’ll move on to the next thing – they’ll simply change the channel…

The online community is hardly a captive audience, and there is plenty of awesome content out there for virtually any interest group. If you aren’t keeping them engaged, you’ll be snubbed for the next one, just a click away.

This means creating content that is important to your audience first, your company second.

People use browser add-ons like Adblock to get around blatant advertisements (to the dismay of marketers everywhere), but something like a company sponsored how-to video, related to your market, will be sought out by prospective customers.

This is why blogs are so important for company websites – they are a reason for viewers to visit your site to gain some information, to be entertained, or to solve a problem…

And by providing this in spades, your company is all the more likely to build a relationship with that visitor that results in a sale.

As they say, “content is king” of the online world – it is the driving force behind page views, clicks, backlinks… all of the bits and pieces that make the world wide web function the way it does.

Everything online revolves around quality content – and if you aren’t providing this to your audience, there’s no reason to have a social media account in the first place.