In a recent Samsung ad promoting his upcoming album, hip-hop mogul, rapper, and businessman Sean “Jay-Z” Carter makes a very profound statement that I believe in many ways sums up the current state of social media marketing today. In the three-minute spot released during Game7 of the NBA finals, Jay-Z states that the internet has no rules and is very much like “the wild, Wild West.”
Jay-Z is well known for his street smarts and business savvy which have translated brilliantly in corporate America to the tune of a $600 million empire. This is to say that Jay is no fool, so when he makes a statement like the one he made, it’s definitely worth paying attention to.
In fact, as a social media marketer, I’d say in many ways Jay-Z’s comments apply directly to the current social media landscape. Social has a penchant for drastic and often spur-of-the-moment changes, making it an annoying conundrum for many businesses and marketers. A company starts to get the hang of a specific platform only to find out that another cooler, sexier platform has come and replaced the one they’re on. It happens every day.
Case in point came two weeks ago when Instagram announced the addition of video to its platform. Ironically, Twitter’s Vine app had really begun to gain attention from the people that matter most – Fortune 500 companies. That was until Instagram’s one simple move, which changed the entire landscape of fast-at-your-fingertips online videos. It didn’t matter that the space was relatively new and for the most part unexplored. It didn’t matter that Vine was really the only major player in the space. The only thing that mattered was Instagram’s decision to add video to its already dominant platform.
After the announcement, there was the expected subsequent melee of people flooding the internet with memes. Many of those memes addressed the funeral arrangements and official death notices for Vine. Then there were the experts, who scurried about writing detailed articles listing all the pros and cons of each service. It was typical social media at its finest and all of this happened within a matter of hours. As I sat back and watched it all unfold, I was reminded once again of the most important rule we have at Gate6 in regards to social media. It’s a rule that we apply to every social media strategy.
Social media must be built around strategy, not around platforms.
It sounds so simple, yet for whatever reason, not many businesses apply it to their social media efforts. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to create an account on a platform that I know will do absolutely nothing for their business. I definitely wouldn’t be typing this blog – I’d probably in Barbados sipping a pina colada, but that’s beside the point.
The point is, companies need to start looking at social like any other strategic portion of their marketing and business initiatives. We like to refer to it as a “deep dive,” meaning marketers should really take the time to pinpoint exactly why they want to be engaged in social media and exactly what it is that they want from their efforts. A well thought out social strategy has to be in place because, as we’ve seen, the platforms are constantly changing and evolving.
Your Facebook strategy from 2012 probably won’t be as effective this year because Facebook has changed. What you need is an overall social media strategy that will help you develop and maintain a loyal community. That way, this community can be plugged into whatever avenue/platform that helps you reach your company’s desired goal(s). Do not be fooled, there is a lot of work that goes into this process. But, in the end, it will be worth it and you’ll have a lot more to show for your social efforts than mindless scrambling to stay “ahead of the curve.”