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Azleen Abdul Rahim

What If Your Social Media Marketing Problem Isn’t Related To Social Media At All, But Something Else?

Another over-hyped word that I can see it everywhere on social media channels is digital marketer. If you are as active as I am on LinkedIn, the hype there is very obvious.

Joy Abdullah tagged me a great article on LinkedIn the other day, sharing me about a brilliant piece written by Josh Hoffman. As usual, each content that I got tagged, taking a short 5-seconds sneak peek is a must. From it, I will know whether the content is worth the reading, reading and commenting, or simply skip it altogether. Now, this time it’s rare. Despite being published a year ago, the substance is still very much relevant to this very day. Well, at least to me.

In his article, Josh highlighted that fifty percent of the businesses out there that rely on social media are clueless in what they’re doing. They don’t have a strategy behind it. In other words, they’re using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all for the sake of just doing it. They aren’t sure how to monetise it or generate a meaningful outcome out of it. As a marketing strategist, this insight isn’t shocking. In fact, it resonates well with me. Seriously, Josh was right when he said that the word strategy itself is pretty much over-hyped.

Another over-hyped word that I can see it everywhere on social media channels is digital marketer. If you are as active as I am on LinkedIn, the hype there is very obvious. From a university student, to a seasoned marketer like me, the word seems to be their favourite designation. The coolness is understood, yet on the other hand it creates a lot of confusion among the people. Let me break it down for you. Based on my personal observation, you must know that there are at least six types of offering that you can find in the market when it comes to digital marketer’s services. Whilst all of them share the same objective, to monetise your online presence, their roles, responsibilities and capabilities are somewhat different from one another.

Let’s take a look at their differences. First, the strategy play. This type of marketer, they hardly called themselves a digital marketer because their work normally involves branding, traditional side of marketing and media or public relations gig too. But again, there are some strategists like to put their title as a digital marketer. Perhaps it is easier to explain to their customers. What do they do then? They are the one who help created the why-you value proposition for your brand. Second, the social media play. This type of digital marketers, they will help you on streamlining and executing your social media tactics. Social media is all about tactics, the how-to of it. And they are good at this. Some of them sometimes claimed that they can do strategy too but the level of strategy that they’re having may not be as deep as the earlier group I mentioned. Third, the content play. They also want to be known as a digital marketer. However in actual fact, they are the content producer. They help to create materials such as writing blogs, copywriting, designing graphics, editing videos, creating animations, proofreading and so on. They are very good at these, but only this. It is rare that they are good on social media and strategy too. Their brain is hardwired mostly to be good at design and nothing else. Fourth, a website developer. This people also wanted to claim themselves as a digital marketer while in reality, they skillset is solely on the website development. They are a very creative creature when it comes to this. Fifth, the SEO play. SEO or search engine optimisation guys also want to have a piece at this and want to claim themselves as a digital marketer too. Their expertise lies pretty much on making your brand discoverable on the world wide web through the fine-tuning work of your website or blog. They know what needs to be done to make sure that when people search for something within your niche, they will find you on search engines. Finally, a combination of these. Unless if they say that they own a team, please verify their statement when they claim that they’re good at all.

So when you say that you’re having a social media marketing problem, it may sound a bit general isn’t it? My suggestion is for you to take a step back, revisit what’s going on back there in the company and identify which area that you think improvements are badly needed. Then match it with these type of ‘digital marketers’ I was talking about earlier.

Perhaps all you need is just a strategist. Or you may find yourself lack on developing content. So why bother to tweak your social media game plan when the actually problems aren’t there in the first place.  

Echoing Josh’s words, if you aren’t able to monetise your presence online, then the real culprit could be the existing lack-of-depth strategy that you have at the moment. To me, not able to yield any significant results from your social media marketing is similar to losing money. You need to act on it quickly, find the root of the problem before the situation becomes worst. Revisit your strategy first, then slowly diagnose others too.  

A good strategy will help you to connect all dots. It will make you see where the industry standard is at now, is that the level you’re after, where you are at now and how big the gap is. At this stage, you will understand the reason of your brand’s existence, its value proposition, the level of significance your brand has to the people’s life, how unique your brand is unlike others and the ultimate answers to the question of Why you?

Once the gap is identified, it will then trigger the initiation of action items, what’s needed to close the gap and how to do it. This is the phase where you will identify how to run your marketing initiatives and win it.

Social media is hardly a problem for brands. Personally this is what I observe. It’s the strategy. It’s the brain behind the social media marketing you’re playing now that is lacking depth.

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Azleen Abdul Rahim is the Co-Founder of Marketing In Asia. He also runs NSE, a social media management company. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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