Today I have been scouring blogs, LinkedIn discussion boards and marketing magazines looking for something to write about. Whilst on this quest for inspiration I have discovered something that really gets on my wick about blogs and articles surrounding the topic of social media. The statement that usually goes a little like this ‘If Facebook were a country it would be the largest in the world’ or variations of this. This annoys me for a number of reasons:
1. Majority of people looking for advice on how to expand their reach using social media already know how big it is, that’s why they are looking. I understand the metaphor and I understand that the first time I saw it I was impressed and somewhat shocked but I think we need a new way of getting it across because after seeing it over 50 times in 50 different articles it loses its impact.
2. Yes it’s all well and good that if twitter was a country it would be the 12th largest in the world (try typing that into Google…see everyone says it!) but so what? The Philippines is actually the 12th largest country in the world but I don’t speak Filipino so this doesn’t help me promote my business. It’s the same with social media, unless you know how to communicate, it doesn’t matter how big they are. Companies need to understand that under this social media umbrella there are separate channels that need to be treated in their own unique way. You wouldn’t go looking for a conversation on Instagram or a descriptive review on twitter. Different types of content have to be used on each platform.
My theory is: Facebook is where you talk to your friends; Twitter is where you follow people you want to be friends with. I would never have David Beckham on Facebook (I wish!) but I follow him on Twitter, you get the idea. You need to adapt your message to the platform you’re using, just as you would if you were doing both a TV and Radio campaign. You have the same message just communicated differently. People that live in the ‘country of Facebook’ also live in the ‘country of twitter’, companies need to be aware of this and understand that they must keep their base message consistent and this needs to be considered throughout their social media activity. This is where the use of an agency comes in handy. Back to my Philippines metaphor; you could either spend years learning the language or get a translator, that’s what agencies do they translate; they are the experts so you don’t need to learn every digital term in the book.
I recently read a blog in which social media marketers and what they do was discussed and I really liked this view on it:
‘Anyone can schedule a tweet, but knowing which times will attract the most views by your chosen demographic, the text: visual content ratio that your target market responds to, the key words to initiate interaction and tailoring your posts and tweets accordingly is not something any keyboard junkie can do. We’re in the business of making Mass Psychology look friendly; it isn’t numbers or big terms, but instinct and opportunity recognition.’ (See original post)
3. And finally, It could seem from these country references that Facebook and twitter is the be all and end all of a companies social media activity, which quite frankly is ludicrous. There are so many different social networks targeting niche markets. Yes Facebook has numbers but niche networks have engaged numbers around a specific topic, interests, regions. It makes sense to target a place where the people that will be buying your products are active. Companies should still work within the larger platforms but shouldn’t neglect the smaller niche platforms that may focus directly on their target market and therefore engage the right people.