Recently, I read a great article by Ellie Mirman through LinkedIn postings. It was on Hubspot's inbound marketing blog. It was all about lousy advice on social media. I liked, learned, and thought I would share this week and next some of the top bad pieces of advice concerning social media and sponsorship.
As Ellie notes, there are lots of "experts" on social media out there. Some are great at what they do, and in my mind, are true experts like Shannon Bowen-Kelsick, our long-time social media guru at Partnership Group - Sponsorship Specialists™. Another is communicatto, our partner in social and digital media that adds its expertise to ours to ensure our clients get the best possible support for social and digital media in the sponsorship arena. And there are others that know, live, and breathe this space and whom I call experts.
But then there are those who have opened a Facebook account, send a few tweets, and call themselves experts. There are people I see on LinkedIn that I have known for years, conversed with in the past few months about their jobs, and then all of a sudden, they are "social media experts." Man, some of these people think the reference to "handle" still refers to their three-speed bike gear shift. Or they have set up a web site and think they know social media strategy. It is these people I am wary of. The following is the sort of advice they might give you.... and it is bad advice in the social media space, especially with regard to sponsorship!
1. Email is passé and you don't need it. I hear that in today's world, you only need to use texting, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Wrong. As Ellie noted, the day Oprah signed up for Twitter and user registration skyrocketed, we didn't all cancel our email accounts. Ellie has been using Twitter for five years, Facebook and LinkedIn for even longer, and she lives in her email. Social media didn't render email marketing extinct; it just added another integrated channel to make email even stronger. Just as sponsorship programs will not eliminate traditional advertising channels, they will enhance and integrate them to deliver better value. Remember, one of the first steps in signing up for a social media account is usually to provide your email address. Communicating via social media, in some cases, is the same as communicating via email.
For example, a LinkedIn group message is emailed to the group members via LinkedIn. On top of that, many people still prefer email for communication, or prefer different types of content via email vs. social posts. In fact, more people receive and open the weekly Tuesday Morning Commentary via email than through social media links and platforms!
2. You need to focus on a specific platform! Many of these "experts" claim that you need to focus in on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever. You should want to focus your social media marketing efforts, Ellie concludes, but at the same time, no single social media site is the Holy Grail. Experiment with a few sites, determine where your audience hangs out, and focus on the few that are the best fit for your company. It is just the same in sponsorship. Determine which properties and assets within those properties work for you. Just because someone else is in golf or the arts doesn't mean your target audience is.
3. At the other end of the scale, we are often told by these self-proclaimed "gurus" that you need to be on every social network. Wrong again! Ellie points out that, if you have limited time and resources, don't spread yourself too thin by trying to maintain an active presence on every social media site. Research and learn about the makeup of the audience that populates each social network so you can determine where you should focus. If your audience isn't there, don't waste your time. And as new social networks pop up (as they do all the time), feel free to experiment with them, but be ready to let them go if they don't work for you. Let your analytics be your guide.
There is more to come next time about automating updates, and the myths that "the more you publish and the more sites you are on, the better," "an intern can manage it all for you," or "it can all be outsourced."