Magazine article Marketing


Magazine article Marketing


Article excerpt

Having a social-media strategy is pointless unless it is part of an overarching content strategy - whatever the platform, it's what a brand has to say that really matters, writes Gordon MacMillan.

If 2012 has been about shaping and developing a social-media strategy, then 2013 will be about throwing that out of the window and starting again.

Why? Simple. The very term social media has become a stumbling block. It gets in the way of the real question of what it is that brands are trying to achieve. Partly this has happened because social media means different things to different people - and it means multiple things to brands.

Part of the problem is clearly illustrated by the split personality that social media can have as far as brands are concerned.

Social is viewed both as a way to market to consumers, in that it is a channel in the same way as TV, direct or online advertising, and as a customer-service platform - where it has become a place for growing numbers of consumers to vent their dissatisfaction with brands.

When I talk about starting again, I am talking about the questions being asked. All too often, the questions that brands, and some of their agencies, ask about social media are the wrong ones.

In so many cases, the focus seems to be about what presence the brand should have, or about the platform - whether the brand should be on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram or Tumblr, for example.

In 99% of cases it seems that it is the Facebook option that gets a big 'like', with Twitter, YouTube and others following. This approach, of putting the platform first, is partly the reason why some brands have had high-profile social-media fails in 2012. 'Intimate hygiene' brand Femfresh, which experienced a social-media backlash to its 'Whatever you call it, make sure you love it' campaign, was a case in point. It opened shop on Facebook without much of a plan and came unstuck.

Message before channel

The starting point should always be about what the brand is going to say, the idea and brand story. It should, in other words, always be about the content. Whether you call this content marketing, branded content or brand journalism, it doesn't matter. …

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