Why social media is now traditional media

Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

48% of small businesses and 79% of large companies are currently using social media to promote their brand, and of those that don’t currently have a social media presence, a significant number expect to add at least one platform in the coming year.

So with social media such a prevalent business tool, why are many companies still getting it wrong?

When it comes to engaging with consumers on social media many businesses don’t have an effective strategy. Although in the past there was a division between ‘traditional’ and ‘social’ media approaches, brands who still believe there is that separation, aren’t taking this business tool seriously enough.

In today’s market, understanding that social media is now considered traditional media is more important than ever for businesses. The customer journey is no longer linear and a large chunk has already been completed by digital due diligence by the time they interact with a brand’s sales representative, making well-executed online touchpoints absolutely essential.

To help companies effectively utilise social media as a business tool, here are some expert tips:

1. A picture says 1,000 words.

While keywords and great, engaging content is still important for the SEO algorithms in Google, the way to success is through HEO (Human Engagement Optimisation). Imagery, both still and moving can capture both mobile minds and analogue hearts to build brand equity.

2. Video is king.

Mobile video distribution is growing exponentially and for good reason. If a picture says 1,000 words, video says 1,000 pictures. Facebook prioritises native video, and Instagram is giving prime real estate to Instagram stories because videos, both edited and documentary-style are very captivating content pieces.

3. Radio isn’t being killed by the videostar.

Podcasts are seeing a renaissance and are a great way to tune into audiences who are on the move. A mobile person on a commute, at the gym or in traffic, may not be able to view a video, but they will gladly listen to inspirational or mind-shifting content, interviews, and rants. It is also an unexplored opportunity for B2B, as much as it is for B2C.

4. Order, discipline, and a bit of cheekiness.

Tools like Hubspot, Hootsuite and Buffer enable companies to schedule tweets, LinkedIn Updates, and blog promotions in a disciplined fashion. Social media messaging should be operated just like traditional media – in an organised fashion – while still allowing for humanity and responsiveness.

5. Don’t divide digital and traditional market budgets.

Don’t create internal friction and politics by having digital and traditional silos who are adversaries. The two need to play together – seamlessly. The CMO or marketing director should oversee all aspects and ensure the digital and analogue channels complement each other.

6. Seamlessness.

Customers are expecting brands to connect with their digital minds and offer experiences to their analogue hearts. Social media is only one aspect of the deeply empathetic design of customer journeys, which should be moving customers and prospects from 1. Awareness to 2. Engagement to 3. Evaluation to 4. Decision, and finally to 5. Usage and Loyalty, whereby both digital and analogue media augment each other.

7. Make it strategic and inspirational.

Whether B2B or B2C, as customers, consumers all crave transformational and deeply empathetic content that educates and empowers businesses to make smarter decisions. So, to ensure that this is the case, the company’s inbound content strategy needs to be both strategic and inspirational.

Swedish-Australian Anders Sörman-Nilsson (LLB / EMBA) is a global futurist, innovation strategist, keynote speaker at TEDx and author of Digilogue: How to win the digital minds and analogue hearts of tomorrow’s customer, and Seamless: a hero’s journey of digital disruption, adaptation and human transformation.

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