Timothy (Tim) Hughes
December 18, 2016

Social Media Marketing Is About Relationships, Not Broadcasting

Social Media Marketing

This article by Timothy (Tim) Hughes, looks at the roots of Social Media Marketing, and how the practices of many have changed less than we might like to believe. It is another installment in our “Great Articles You may have missed” series.

Social Media Marketing Is Not For Broadcasting

The foundations to marketing started in the 1920s and developed to a point in the 1950s and from looking at many companies social media (Twitter, LinkedIn etc), things have not changed much.

“Broadcast” marketing is a simple concept, you throw lots of “mud” at the wall, some of it will stick. In the “Madmen” days, the people with the biggest advertising budget sold the most product. The bigger the budget, the more mud you had to throw. Simples.

Have we changed since 1950s?

When I first started out in sales some 27 years ago, we sent out mail shot letters. The more we sent, the theory was, the better of the outcome of the campaign.

Then email was invented and we could scale up the number of mail shots sent out and better still, we didn’t need to buy stamps, emails are free. When I first started using email, the word “spam” hadn’t been invented, thankfully.

As somebody at a Marketing Agency recently said to me,

“we keep firing out those emails, it’s a pity the open rate keeps going down.”

Moving onto the modern day, Social Media was invented, but have we really changed what we do? Look at the average B2B (Business to Business) Twitter feed, it’s 1950s broadcast in a modern Social Media wrapper!

Let’s be Honest here

Dear reader, please take a few seconds to review your social media feeds. And let’s be honest here …..

  • People don’t read ads anymore
  • We fast forward through ads on the TV
  • Call me, (I don’t recognise your number in my phone) I won’t take the call
  • Send me an email and I don’t know you (it will end in my email junk file) and it will get deleted
  • None of us care about your company or products
  • The most important person in the world is me


“Broadcast” on Social is a Waste of Time

Come on, we are friends right? Let’s be honest and look at our social media feeds (and these can be company and your employees) are you posting stuff all about you, your company, how great you are?

I’m sorry, but none of us cares!

Was checking out a “Digital Practice” on Twitter the other day, Table Tennis table the whole lot. Their Twitter was all about them. Even the photos of them picking up litter in the branded T-Shirts, was all about them. I asked a question, on Twitter. Nothing happened.

Control, Control, Control

Some of you will have already switched off from this blog, as no broadcast means loss of control. Was talking to a senior marketer recently and they said

“We cannot trust the employees to post the right things on Social Media, so we tightly control everything”.

How can you control the message? I’m sorry, the genie is out the bottle. This is what we mean when we talk about Digital Marketing (I prefer to drop the Digital and call it just Marketing) and Social Selling (I prefer to drop the Social and call it selling).

Maybe some training might help?

Times have changed, the buyer is in control and your competition are just one click away. We have to move with the times.

The “A ha” Moment!

The list above of places where I ignore brands is pretty damning. That said, as a customer, it is probably easier to contact me (or anyone else) than at anytime ever in history.

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We all love brands both B2C and B2B and we all have customers and advocates that would love to interact with us and be part of our community.

Social now reaches across the whole organisation, not just sales and marketing but human resources, finance, purchasing, research and development, returns, after market, supply chain, etc.

Which means it’s a corporate wide (dare I say C-Suite) issue. Social is both internal and external and in an age of cloud and standardisation (all the IT systems will be the same regardless of company or industry), it will provide you with your competitive advantage.

I was talking to a company recently that helps customers return goods. Wouldn’t it be great for your brand if customers tweeted how great you are, because you made the process to return goods easy, rather than tweeting how bad the process is? And the great competitive advantage is, you might sell more as a result!

Social Strategy, got one?

Your organisation needs a “top down and bottom up” social strategy that reaches across all departments. Where everybody know what the strategy is, how to interact with customers, the tone of voice and brand message. Oh, by the way, you could also kill the competition, but don’t tell them I told you.

The Cool Thing is This.

People are more likely to buy from friends, from people they have a relationship with, people they feel have something in common with, and people they have been recommended. Build relationships on Social and those people are more likely to buy from you.

And Finally …..

To finish with I’m going to quote my buddy, Ted Rubin as he can conclude this better than me:-

Social mirrors real life. It’s not as if we suddenly lose our concept of human interaction when we sit down to a keyboard or turn on a tablet! Too often, though, all of the worrying and red tape built into social strategies leads to a message that’s been dehumanized. If people want a sterilized vision of your products, services, or brand, there are plenty of places they can find that information online. When it comes to social, though, people want to interact with real people, not bots.

And when they interact with your brand, they expect the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. That’s why open communication across departments is crucial, from planning your overall social strategy to actually handing a customer from one person to the next along their particular journey with your brand.

Your Turn

Do you have any thoughts on the above? Anything you’d like to comment or add? Did you ‘catch yourself’ broadcasting and then change your approach? Please relate your stories below.


timothy-hugesThis article was previously titled “Take a Long Hard look at your Social” and posted on LinkedIn. It is republished here with permission.

Tim Hughes is co-founder of Digital Leadership Associates a company that provides support and guidance in all areas of Social as well as Social Selling. He has been called “an innovator and pioneer” of Social Selling and in the recent Onalytica list of the most influential Social Sellers globally, Tim was named as number 1.

You can tweet Tim @timothy_hughes, read his blog The Social Selling Network and download or order his book “Social Selling – Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers” from Amazon by clicking here.


Lead/Featured Image: Multiple sources; origin unknown

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