By Mark Cameron
Not so long ago, social media platforms were meant to make us all more connected and be the catalyst for customer-centric change in behaviour that would sweep the world. Communication had become more democratic than it ever had before and now everybody has a voice.
But some members of the business community simply don’t understand how to use this technology, and they are busy ruining it for the rest of us.
The problem is advertising. It’s not that there is anything wrong with advertising on Facebook. When done right it’s actually pretty entertaining and can even be helpful. But most brands are not getting it right. They are used to “dumbing it down” and targeting the lowest common denominator. They’re using outdated metrics and old-school marketing techniques. And when these don’t work they blame the platform.
It’s not Facebook’s fault brands don’t know how to connect with their customers. Their advertising products and targeting tools are incredibly sophisticated. If people aren’t engaging with the ads, there is probably a good reason for it.
People are having conversations on platforms that make them feel good. The value they get is in the connection. Most of the time they are treating each other with respect and talking in a human way. As the cartoonist and author Hugh MacLeod wrote back in 2006, “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.” Brands are busy saying, “Where’s the ROI of social media?” and it is important to be results driven. But make sure you are also asking, “Are we creating experiences that people will actually want?”
So listen up brands of the world. Stop trying to change the way that people behave and think. Stop trying to position your brand at the center of a relationship. Stop writing irrelevant ads.
Talk to your customers and listen to your market. Treat them like individuals. Start thinking about the experiences you can offer that will make a difference to your customers’ lives. Think about how you can use data to make someone’s life better—not just to spam them. Help make the Internet a better place for all of us.
Mark Cameron is CEO and lead strategist of social media conversion and commercialization agency Working Three. While his agency is based in Melbourne, Australia, he works for some of the world’s most innovative and forward-thinking brands. As a regular speaker and writer on social media and digital strategy, Mark stays focused on customers and outcomes, not the technology, leading to simple strategic conclusions.