Plan and research, by all means. But don't overdo the hard sell in social channels. It's about earning the right to sell.
by Dan Slee
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for comms planning and having a purpose.
If the aim is to do something then it makes sense to have your comms pointing at that.
The only thing is that social media isn't like that. It's social. So, a stream of call-to-action updates just won't work. It's as social as a stream of flyers being pushed through your letterbox.
So, what's the answer?
There needs to be a balance of the social and the stuff you want people to sign up for, buy or do.
Often in training I'll refer to an 80-20 split. The 80 per cent is conversational and engaging content. The 20 per cent is the things you'd like people to do.
In a fascinating interview on BBC Radio 4's 'The Bottom Line' Asda's social manager puts the balance at 10 to 1.
Dominic Birch, Asda senior director of marketing, innovation and new revenue, said that the social media team has now become part of the wider PR team.
"We didn't have a budget. So it wasn't the case of advertising that we were on Facebook. Each time we posted some content we had to rely on even a very small number of people at first liking it for that content to be seen my anyone else otherwise we would be speaking to ourselves.
"We averaged two or three posts a day, every day, so maybe 20 posts a week.
It started to get interesting when they started to get customers to chip in with decisions. Nothing big. Customers chose the design for Christmas tea towels.
"What was really interesting was that 4,500 people went to the bother of asking whether they liked design 'a', 'b' or 'c'. Actually, it was that moment that with 18 million customers we understood that if you connect to the right ones they really do care about what you do, what they say and why wouldn't they? Ultimately, they're going to come into your shop and choose to buy it."
Big numbers is not the answer as fewer people see the posts. If the people who like your page are true customers it'll cost you less effectively to reach them through Facebook ads.
"There is a danger that social media becomes diarrhea. We had a rule of thumb that for every post we wanted to push or sell something to be very blunt about it we had to put 10 other posts in the bank. They are there solely to engage our customers. We have to have done hard work talking about what the customers wanted to talk about before we have the right or licence to push something out.
"It's a two-way dialogue social media. It just is. Our starting point is not to sell. It's to listen. A few years ago we had a Christmas ad that was based on insight that it was Mum who does the heavy lifting, organises the present, gets the tree, cooks the meal and we depicted this advert and were met with a media backlash. Some people thought this was filmed in the 1950s and Fathers for Justice were going to do protests in the turkey aisle but we had three or four thousand comments saying things like 'I nudged my husband awake when that came on the TV and said:L 'that's how it really feels.' If you'd have gone back two or three years there would have been a high level meeting and the advert would have been pulled."
That's useful insight. Are you getting the balance right?
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.