“Social media is easy”

Last Updated on August 11, 2016

When I hear people claim that engaging in social media is easy, my first thought is: show me how effective you’ve been.  Everyone is talking about social media and trying to get their clients to think they’ve got it figured out. Every agency, PR firm, and Internet gun for hire talks a good talk when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, and the other top social sites. At best, most of these new experts are about a day ahead of the class. They point their clients to all the popular sites for articles and studies on the importance of social media. Whole new industries blossom around the buzz and new players frenetically report the latest news.

Sure it’s easy to use your personal Facebook profile to create a Facebook page for your business or product, maybe even for yourself. But if you want to do anything beyond making wall posts and praying for new “likes”, you better have the right strategy, a real commitment, and some good design and technology talent. These are fundamentally different skill sets that are not easy to find. Take for example, our work for Kroger on Facebook. The visitors and 88,000+ fans are offered custom designed and developed coupons, app promotions, sweepstakes, polls, and much more in addition to the every day customer conversations.

The same goes for Twitter. The account set up part and tweeting itself is easy, but have you noticed that all cool things happen off of Twitter? Popular companies use abbreviated links to take people where they really want them to go. The tweet is a tease to something bigger and better. It better be if you want to keep the followers happy.

When new opportunities like social media sites appear, businesses typically get into the game by looking for someone outside of their current organization who understands the new thing. The new thing is a complete mystery to company leadership because they’ve never fully participated in the trend and don’t understood the technology behind it. They know a good design when they see it, but how the Internet works, apps, browsers, programming languages, databases, and the hardware running it all is still a mystery.

These leaders are also slow to demand results from new channels. “Success is hard to measure” and “we need time to build a social media audience” is what I hear most. Leaders fail to see that their marketing budget and their technology budget need to become one and the same, and that they need to be working with people who are experts in both fields.

No matter which social media audience your business sets its sights on, there are a few key things to remember before you get in the pool. First, having a real understanding of the new thing matters. It will help drive the right strategy and a real commitment to making it a success. Second, don’t let the design of Facebook limit what your company looks like on Facebook. Good design still matters and it will greatly enhance the visitors experience. Finally, at its core, all of social media is still about this thing we call the Internet–data moving around from servers to computers to mobile devices. In other words, the technology still matters. It takes real programming skills to build campaigns, set up databases, manage servers, track results, etc.

Everything has actually become even more complicated with so many new devices, browsers, and programming languages. The days of designing and building only for the Internet Explorer (IE) browser experience are long gone (thank goodness). You now have to make everything work perfect on Firefox, Chrome, Safari, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Window Mobile, and of course, IE. Truth be told, I’m grateful for this new frontier which is sweeping in a new wave of innovation.

We’ve all seen this bubble before.  It won’t be long before the casualties start returning from the battle field. Being measurably successful in social media marketing is not easy. The right plan with the right design and technology skills will once again make all the difference.