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*2 Major Issues with Social Media Buttons on Ads (or, "You're Doing It Wrong!")

Would love your opinion on this post, which stems from an earlier debate I'd had here on G+ with a bunch of folks!


I’m always amazed at how many brands throw a Facebook or Twitter icon onto their TV ad, billboard or print ad. Two things strike me as backwards:

1) Throwing up those buttons now is like throwing up an icon reading “find us online.”

OF COURSE the advertiser is using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s now accepted and more unusual when they’re not.

Using the currently out-of-date “find us online” call to action as the analogy: after years of funneling people to a website being unique to some advertisers, we the consumers now assume that everyone we want to interact with and/or buy from is available via a quick Google search online. But searching takes effort, so better advertisers would say something like “Find us at example.com” instead, so we head right to their content.

So why aren’t brands showing their social media URLs in ads? The button soup approach is still dominating, and that is just ludicrous. All those little square Facebook, Twitter and YouTube buttons tell us is that brands use those channels (congrats - do they want a cookie or something?). Why not tell us WHERE or HOW we can find them?

Even more bewildering…

2) There’s no “WHY” behind us visiting a brand’s page!

Painting in broad strokes, the majority of ads you see on TV that reference their online profiles with button soup never hint at why the hell you’d want to interact in the first place. It’s not the same for every brand after all - “Likes” weren’t created equal - nor is it something that lots of consumers want to do. We want a reason. We want a benefit to us, be it entertainment or savings or knowledge. Brands need to look at why someone would engage with them first, and that’s way different than why we’d buy their products.

As Simon Sinek so astutely says, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” Well, in the case of creating content online and trying to convince others to engage with that content, that’s even more true.

This is what Sinek calls, “Starting with Why,” and it’s high time that brands, advertisers and agencies start seriously focusing on this if they want their social media outposts and content online to achieve actual, genuine, sustained engagement.

Example: I buy Nike shoes, but I don’t really care about a Facebook page about shoes. I’m just not so into shoes that I’d care about their latest advancements (or even discounts). I have no desire to interact with a shoe company outside of my time shopping.

But I LOVE basketball and sports and awesome montages about sports. Nike knows that, so they churn out awesome content that adds value to my life. It has ZERO to do with saving me money or advertising their latest product, but it has everything to do with selling their products…because it gets continual, deep engagement out of me.

It retains an existing customer (always cheaper than acquiring a new one, right?), and it helps them acquire new ones when I share their latest video with my friends that I know will enjoy it (so they’re getting a HUGE stamp of peer-to-peer approval, not to mention a lead that is more qualified since I know the person is similar to me and therefore down the funnel already).

So what’s this all mean?


Brands MUST add value when they create content online, which is exactly what social media enable them to do. They need to actually dedicate time to THINK about (or even research) the “WHY.” Why would anyone care to interact, in a back and forth relationship, with their brand? What’s their personality? What’s their unique value prop — not as it relates to product but as it applies to the media they produce?

And if they hear this and start thinking they don’t want to go down that road, then they shouldn’t use social media channels, period, because that time could be better spent successfully building other parts of their business.

As my grandfather used to say: “If you’re not gonna do it right, don’t do it at all.”
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