Social Spotlight: The Law of ‘REALationships’
When I first wrote "The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing" for Retail Online Integration as a blog post back in 2009, I never realized the stir it would cause in the social media marketing world. I've been told over the years that the laws provided a great context for how to create loyal followers and build social engagement. Since 2009, I've presented the nine immutable laws to thousands of marketers live, and the online version of the presentation has been viewed nearly 50,000 times on SlideShare. And yet, I've always felt that there was something missing.
I've always planned on introducing a 10th immutable law of social media marketing — a law that would supersede all of the social media marketing laws. Galvanize the other laws into action, even. Well, I'm pleased to introduce you to the 10th immutable law of social media marketing: In a cluttered, evolving social media sphere, "REALationships" are the key to results.
While to some this law may seem simple, through my research over the last few years I've come to the conclusion that this one concept — building relationships — is often low on the totem pole of the social media marketer's agenda. Often we think of the concept of engagement (e.g., a like, share, retweet, etc.) as a real relationship. I'm not knocking engagement (it's No. 1 of the nine laws), but there's a deeper level. Here are a few reasons why social media marketing in 2015 needs to change, as well as some ideas around how to build lasting, empowered relationships via social media:
1. "But we ARE building relationships!" To be clear, whenever I bring up the subject of building relationships via social media, many marketers disagree. Some even get argumentative with me about the subject (me thinks they doth protest too much). So let's step back for a minute and discuss the current state of social media marketing. I've spent a lot of time researching social media, and this is what I've found.
2. Competition for hearts and minds is fierce. In 2015, nearly every business has some sort of social media presence. You're competing with big and small businesses alike, from big-box retailers to mom-and-pop stores to online-only retailers. Early adopters of social media found engagement to be easier, thus it was more effective at building relationships. Today, we're bombarded with business messages from everywhere (and a lot of them aren't so good).
3. Social decluttering is here, and it's a moving target. Facebook is leading the way in decluttering your feeds. As of this writing, Facebook has once again changed its feed algorithm to downplay (translation: not serve up) overly promotional posts by business pages. Much has been already written about this subject, so I won't go into the details; just know that if your posts are promotional in nature, they'll need to be boosted (paid!) in order to reach your fans.
Beyond that, your posts in all social media channels face great competition. Everybody is in the game looking for the same results that you are.
4. Social is becoming "pay for play." As a public company, Facebook is seeking new ways to provide return on investment and shareholder value. One of those ways is to monetize the news feed — i.e., you have to pay to reach your own followers. I'm not a fan, but until companies protest en masse, it won't (and likely never will) change. Other social networks either already have or will soon follow suit. Want to reach your followers in 2015? Be ready to pay.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.