Is Social Media Just Another Promotional Channel?

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Social Media

There is no doubt that social media has changed society. 

Whether it’s for better or worse is a judgment I’ll leave to you. 

From a marketing and public relations (PR) point of view, social media has presented the opportunity to reach and connect with people that you may not have been able to reach easily before. 

This leaves the question of how you should use social media.

It’s a big question and I don’t intend to solve it today but there are those who look at it as just another promotional channel.

Is this all social media is or is it something more?

This is what we’re talking about today. 

Social Media or Shared Media?

In the past, you might have seen me talk about shared media. In case you missed those conversations, shared media is essentially social media. 

So why call it shared media?

The idea is that everybody “shares” on social media. People links, videos, pictures, opinions, and ideas. Pretty much everything. 

When you think of it like this, calling it shared media makes sense but there is a problem. 

Let me illustrate with a short story.

When I was at  Intel we used to take terms and “Intelize” them. Essentially, we would rename them. I don’t why we acted like the Borg from Star Trek and assimilated these things and turned them into Intel speak but we did. 

Maybe it’s not a big deal except many of these terms were already standardized within the industry. Intel renaming them didn’t really make any sense because it only caused confusion. 

I didn’t realize how much this was done until I left Intel and found myself using Intel verbiage instead of industry verbiage. We were all talking about the same things but I wasn’t connecting with the people I talked with because we were using different terms. 

This is part is the reason I’ve become a little uncomfortable with the term “shared media”. 

You know it as social media so why create a new term that causes confusion?

Social media is all the things I previously listed earlier. Plus, you can do one thing that I didn’t list: engage with other people and even brands. 

This is one thing that I think gets lost with the term shared media. It limits the way you think about social media.

Words shape our realities and using the term “shared media” is limiting thus I’m going to refrain from using it.

You Should Use Social Media To Market

It should come as no surprise to you that marketers like to market.

Whether it be products, services, or content there is no shortage of people promoting on social media and promotion is just another form of marketing. 

It’s not just marketers. It’s everybody from every walk of life promoting anything and everything. 

Movies, music, articles, viewpoints. 

When you share a link, like it or not, you are promoting it.  When you re-share somebody else’s social media post you are promoting it. 

You are telling people, “Check this out.”

I don’t see this as a bad thing. You do this all the time both on and offline. 

It’s part of life. 

I’ve found music, books, movies, television programs, and restaurants that I love because my friends told me to check them out. 

I’m guessing you have too and like me, you’ve shown people things they wouldn’t have otherwise been aware of that they enjoyed. 

Awareness is an important step and if you aren’t using it to promote your business, you are missing out on a great opportunity. 

You want people to promote your business but it starts with you and social media is a great place to do this.

When I was a kid I used to hear musicians say that MTV was like a huge Top-40 station. 

What they meant by this was radio was limited. At max, in an urban area, it might only reach a few million people. It was a great opportunity but MTV could reach 100 million people. 

An artist having a video shown on MTV was the difference between selling 300,000 albums and selling 3 million. 

Social media is like MTV was. It can potentially reach more people than you ever could by placing an ad in your local newspaper. 

I’m not telling you to be constantly promoting on social media but it does need to be part of your marketing arsenal. 

All this comes with a caveat. 

Don’t Be a Social Media Broadcaster

It’s easy to broadcast on social media. 

Broadcasting is one-way communication. 

When you watch television or listen to the radio it is being broadcast to you and it’s the way some people treat social media as well. 

You show up, post your thoughts and walk away. It’s expecting that people are only interested in listening and not interacting with you. 

I understand that what you’re posting may not be all about you or your company. You might be sharing somebody else’s work or thoughts but you’re still broadcasting if you’re only posting and never interacting. 

Broadcasing is like shouting at people as they walk by hoping they’ll stop for a minute and listen. 

I admit, I’m guilty of this. I know some amazing people in the marketing world who will also freely admit they’re guilty of this as well. 

It’s easy to broadcast but it takes effort to be social.

Think of social media as a party you’re attending. There are many people there. Are you there to be a wallflower and observe people? Are you there to preach? If you went to the party, probably not. You went to engage with people. Talk, joke, and have fun. 

I don’t know about you but I’m an introvert and it plays out online as well. I have to push myself to engage because it can be uncomfortable. Especially, when it’s people I don’t know or don’t know very well. 

Maybe you’re not an introvert but you feel similarly. You don’t want to engage with people you don’t know very well and look stupid, make somebody mad, or just be trolled by the people who live to be jerks online. 

That’s not a good enough reason not to engage. After all, it is called social media not broadcast media. 

Everybody gets trolled at one point or another but you can always mute or block the offenders. 

The other issue is time. 

You might be thinking, “I run a small business and I just don’t have the time to go on social media and start conversing with people.” 

I get it. I’m right there with you. 

You have things to get done and going on social to interact with people isn’t a priority. It can feel time-consuming or even a waste of time. 

I admit, that being on social media can be time-consuming. Before you know it you can be down a rabbit hole and an hour or two has gone by and that task you need to work on hasn’t even been started let alone completed. 

I’ve been there.

Set a timer. 

Yes, I’m being serious. If this is a problem, determine how much time you are going to spend on social media and then set a timer so you know when to get off. 

When the timer goes off, don’t ignore it. Close your app or your browser window and do whatever else you should be doing. 

Be focused while you are on social media. Understand why you are there. 

Yes, you can create friendships online. 

There are people that I’ve never met in real life who I speak to on regular basis and it all started on social media. 

You can create business relationships and develop connections with people but it takes effort on your part. 

Nobody goes to social media to be broadcast too. You might be interesting but I’m sure you’ve known people who only talk about themselves. It gets old after a while. 

Too many people on social media think it’s all about them and their opinions which is why they broadcast. 

If you really want social media to pay off for you and your business, it can’t just be about making it about one way communication. 

Yes, you should market and promote your business and its solutions on social media BUT it needs to be about more than this. 

Don’t forget to be social. It will be the most effective action you take for your business.

*Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

Shane Carpenter
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