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Some thoughts on social media and marketing

Lately I’ve been pondering my future in this business as I feel I’m reaching a crossroads between website development and social media. I’m fortunate in that up to this point I’ve been able to really pick and choose my social media management opportunities and have kept them close to my interests – in other words, I choose clients because what they have to offer is something I can really get behind, not because I’ve needed the work. Now, as I get closer to expanding, I am thinking about the reality of being so choosy – there are only so many opportunities in a small region. Expanding means taking on businesses and industries that I might not have a familiarity or real interest in, which leads me to wonder:

How do you create compelling social media posts when you have no vested interest in the product?

Marketers do this all the time – they come up with interesting, funny, and irresistible material to use to sell us stuff that we didn’t even realize we had a desire for. Marketing is all about creating a perceived need for a product.

Social media is about making connections and developing relationships. It has a connection to marketing because it can complement and inform your marketing efforts. But is it marketing in and of itself? I’ve always maintained that it is not marketing and I’ve run my campaigns in tandem with but not based on directly marketing to our networks. These days I’m wondering if I’m a little off-base.

I see more and more marketing professionals taking over social media for businesses and organizations. This means either social media is and has always been a marketing platform, or that social networks are being infiltrated by savvy marketing pros and that saturation is changing social media. I have one personal Twitter feed that I can find nothing to comment on or connect with another person – it seems to be all about selling. What happened to that personal connection that Twitter used to offer?

social media cartoon

But on the other hand, the biggest social media campaign I’m running right now is very personal, has a lot of engagement, and feels very much like what social should be…. an ongoing conversation between customer and business. And it is successful in meeting the goals we’re setting in terms of website visitation and growth. Campaigns like this one keep me excited about social media. They reinforce all I’ve learned over the last six years of studying, following, and working in this field – that without the social aspect coming first all you end up with is a bunch of shouting.

So where is social media going, folks? Will we keep talking to each other or will the ads and canned content take over?