August  04,  2016 by Alyson O'Mahoney , Executive Vice President/Partner in OTC PR & Social Media

Social Marketing is More Than Social Media


What an OTC brand (really, any brand!) is doing on their social media channels results in what is ultimately a real-time transcript of their marketing efforts (one that not only marketers, like myself, can see, but also your consumers, investors and retailers who sell your products or services).  We may have no idea how many flights of that TV spot you are running, not a clue where you might be sampling, or no inkling at which HCP trade shows you are exhibiting, but we can see how you are engaging with your audience in channels that instantly allocate popularity, drive movement to trial, generate conversation, and, in doing so, create trust and goodwill for your brand.

If a video is uploaded to YouTube, we can see the views and comments.  If a photo is posted on Instagram, we know the number of likes and tags.  On Facebook, well, there’s so much more to see.  We can see who likes, who shares, who comments and how you invite and manage this engagement (Is your content interesting and applicable to your brand’s focus? Do you take an interested consumer and push them further along the purchase path with a “where to buy” link? Do you even respond in a reasonable time, or at ALL?).

See, the channels are social media, but how these channels are managed is social marketing, and I can tell you that a large number of brands who have social media ARE NOT doing social marketing.  Posting pictures in a calendar schedule using hashtags isn’t social marketing. Sharing third party links of content quasi-related to your brand category and or demographic isn’t social marketing.  It’s not wrong, it’s just not right. The brands doing this, and there are many, are leaving so much on the table.

Here’s an example: I recently perused the Facebook page of an OTC product I was interested in approaching in the cold category – one that’s well-known, yet still has a cult-following vibe (perfect for social marketing!) only to see that their daily Facebook posts get extremely low (um, almost zero) engagement (yet the page size is more than 1 million, though size is somewhat irrelevant these days).  To be honest, their community manager could accidentally post the letter “T” as a status update and get more engagement and curiosity on that than some of their slick, well-produced visual content.

The sad reality is that most of what people consider their social marketing is really just smoke and mirrors. Stylized product shots may make your internal brand marketing/managers happy (the person I talked to from the above-mentioned company thought their social media was doing great!), but what is the consumer really doing with it? If the answer is “not much,” then you have social media, but you definitely don’t have social marketing.

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