One of my first blog posts naively focused on the three thing you need in social media to succeed. Surprisingly, I think it still accounts for my most visited blog post, despite its broadness in scope. I foolishly rattled off:
- Be Human
- Educate Yourself
- Don't Do Everything.Just Do It Right.
I say "foolishly" because I believe, even then, I was clinging to the same bullshit tenets that many other social marketers hold dear to their hearts, and use as fodder for social media strategies. After removing my marketing hat, and "being human" for a moment, I realized that there's really only one thing you need to be successful in social media, and it has nothing to do with social media. It does, however, have everything to do with basic marketing.
It seems like we've become so impressed with ourselves that we overlook the most basic tenets of marketing, like the very first "P": Product. And we're so obsessed with "the right messaging," that we completely fail to ask the question: Is that product any good?
Messaging matters. But the quality of the product is even more important.
Social media has the power to amplify your story, as well as those of your customers'. Your customers, however, aren't going to be telling stories about your social marketing prowess. They're going to be telling stories of their experience with your product. Whether they're happy or dissatisfied. Wouldn't you rather the former? If so, then don't look to marketing as the answer to your problems. Look to product development and experience design.
The backbone of social is providing something worth talking about. If you want flash in the pan success, then go for that funny viral video, or interesting microsite. But that isn't the key to long-lasting conversation and advocation.
I recently joined a new gym, Blink Fitness, which is owned by Equinox. It's far from having the same level of amenities as Equinox, but it has enough of what I need, as well as the fit and finish of a higher-end gym. Since having joined, I've written a glowing Yelp review, posted to their Facebook wall, written a status update about it, told four of my friends, and brought one of them with me to try it out. All in the matter of three weeks. Despite having a Facebook page, which is pretty basic in functionality, the company has little in the way of marketing (social included).
So, what got me so excited to share my experience with everyone? The gym itself.
At the end of the day, what gets people talking, what gets them fired up and itching to share the news, is a cool product. Not the marketing. Not the number of fans or followers. The product. If you want to see success, instead of spending your money on a social media agency, spend it at a service/product design firm, and give them the keys to the kingdom. Make sure you're providing the absolute best experience, and THEN worry about spreading the word. I guarantee you'll achieve better results.
Note: I was recently pointed to an article by Rick Webb from The Barbarian Group that champions these thoughts and figured it would be of interest.