Social Media Marketing: Avoid the "All Tweet and No Meat" Trap

I recently read a great article on about why social media marketing works best (if at all) when it is combined with your own fresh content. The article, Is Your Online Marketing Strategy All Tweet and No Meat? poses some very thoughtful questions for anyone seeking to embark on a social media campaign to market their business enterprise.

This week I was involved in two conversations with business people and the conversation came around to what I do. Usually this is that ever-awkward elevator speech time when someone politely listens to you and either waits for their chance to tell you what they do, or casually looks for an exit.

But when I mentioned social media, Twitter, Facebook and the like, the dynamics of both of these conversations changed dramatically. There was a real interest. People have heard about social media and how it can attract lots of traffic to a website and create "buzz" about an organization.

But social media is not magic, and it does not wave its wand without some hard work as well. As the Hubspot article points out:

Social media works best in conjunction with a site that's full of fresh content like blog posts, white papers and videos.

If your marketing strategy is just Twitter and Facebook -- no longer-form content of your own -- your company will end up a big-talking cowboy without cattle. You'll be making comments about everything, but substantive contributions to nothing.

Using social media to alert your followers of great online content that comes from other sources is a big part of serving your "community." In fact, Kenneth Wu (@emailcopywriter) suggests that Twitter users maintain at least a 7 to 1 ratio of sending out good quality content that does not come from you, versus each mention of your own content (that should still be designed to provide helpful information).

But if, using Twitter as an example, you are only "retweeting" or forwarding other people's messages, and you never provide anything that you add to the conversation, your contribution is minimal. And you will not be building your personal brand.

Creating new, original content need not be a major undertaking. Start a blog. Have someone film you in front of a white board explaining a five point how-to discussion. Write a 400 word article.

I am more and more convinced that social media is becoming the new search engine optimization. It is no longer necessary to try to "game" the search engines to get a page one ranking. Instead, businesses will create social networks that will spread the word about them (a far less costly way to market than by using traditional media).

But social media is a process of creating evangelists. In other words, you let the market, do your marketing for you. It is the old, word of mouth marketing dressed up in new, more technical clothing.

However, to create evangelists and word of mouth, you have to have something new to add to the conversation.

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