Social media solutions are peddled the same way as quick weight loss programs. And, we buy into both for the same reason: we want to believe there’s a quick, instant, easy way to get a better return on our advertising investment. Sure you can. Just like you can get buff without workouts and responsible eating. As one who’s been (and still going) through the fitness mill, I find it particularly satisfying to see a universal truth of the gym proven in advertising: you gotta workout to work it off.
Social media’s Kool-Aid sweet treat is seductive. Who wouldn’t want the viral impact of the Coke Zero-Mentos campaign, or sex appeal of Old Spice’s shower guy ads. But, is it really more cost-effective to earn exposure instead of just paying for it?
While social media’s viral engagement may occasionally generate miraculous results, experience proves it can’t predictably deliver the round-house reach punch of paid media. Evidence is mounting that earned media’s cost-efficiency is best realized as a compliment to paid media; paid drives the eyeballs, social earns engagement.
Ray-Ban, Levis, Activision, and Nike are some of the examples used in this discussion where even the largest social media efforts still require paid support to initiate the wave of earned distribution. What does this have to do with your advertising? Invest time to watch this round table on the topic.
Push with paid, pull with earned
You don’t have to be Activision or Nike to apply these same principles. But, you do have to think ahead to synchronize your advertising and social media messaging. Here are five ways you can leverage better results from both:
- Synchronize messaging. Populate your blog with content tied to your advertising message: when putting specific products on sale, create authentic consumer-centric stories about them on your blog. Speak to your customers’ WHY.
- Be engaged. Customers will give you their spark, you must provide the fuel. Monitor comments on your blog to isolate points of interest and pour gas on the fire: join the conversation, add information. You will be communicate with greater connectedness and cement a deeper relationship.
- Take a stand. Shamelessly take a stand for what you believe. Yes, you will hack off some people. But, you will define yourself clearly to those who agree. Being liked is nice. Being loved is better. My partner Tom Wanek illustrates this point brilliantly in his book Currencies that buy Credibility. Read the chapter about Patagonia. Where do you draw the line?
- Invite participation. This one is tricky. New Coke is a cautionary tale of what happens when customers are asked what they would like in a new product. Don’t go there. Customers only know about what they already know. Instead, ask how they use your product in unexpected ways, how it has made their life better, why they gladly pay for it. “What do you like about….” If you have done the first three things listed here, you will get answers.
- Expose yourself. Put a face on your company. Whether you use pictures, Flip videos, or professionally produced videos, bring customers behind the curtain to see who you are. People do business with people. Be personable. Be real. Be available.
Please pass on the Kool-aid
There’s no denying the benefits of earned media. But, it’s only part of the equation. Paid and earned media is like diet and exercise. You build muscle with exercise. You shape up with diet. Paid media is the exercise. Social media is the diet. The work best when you work them together. Just another one of those pesky universal truths.
By the way, the difficult truth about universal truths is, they’re universal. Which brings us to another one: you get what you pay for. How much do you suppose this cost?