In looking at the way most agencies are handling social, it’s obvious that they’re still stuck in “campaign land” when it comes to working within social platforms. This misses the whole idea of what social is all about in terms of engagement and long-term interaction when it comes to branding.

In fact, Max Kalehoff, the VP of product marketing at Syncapse illustrated this perfectly in a blog post on OnlineSpin recently.  He talked about how agencies have leaped at creating social apps that mirror television campaigns as part of their approach to incorporating social in the media mix.

Given that the idea of creating relationships other than with their brand clients is something completely foreign to agencies (they can only think as far as the campaign—it’s in their DNA), that’s not too surprising. It’s just unfortunate. Agencies just can’t seem to get the idea that the traditional model of “pitch—complete creative—launch—done—next” just doesn’t leverage the true value in the social landscape. You have to think beyond the short campaign and reach out into the future as well as across the entire marketing landscape.

The goal of any overall marketing strategy should be to think of ways to develop relationships by creating value, however, we’ve been trained to think in terms of campaigns. Email campaigns—television campaigns—direct mail campaigns—contest campaigns. But campaigns are just a tool for getting us there. If they’re just screams for attention to feed the shiny new toy syndrome, they won’t stand the test of time as far as branding, relationship building, trust and loyalty is concerned—especially not now. People are more distracted and stressed for time than ever—but they still want to engage with brands that consistently provide value over the long haul; a brand they know they can depend on when they need them. I’m not telling you anything new here, it’s just the way we’re built as people.

In today’s age, there’s an app for just about everything; however, the trick is not to reach for bells and whistles, but to offer staying power. If what your offering doesn’t add meaning to what your audience is doing right now—if it’s just a pretty distraction and doesn’t help make their lives easier, then it’s forgotten in a flash. And so are you.

Social gives us the opportunity to converse with people in a way that can truly help us be that dependable brand that meets our audience’s long-term desires, if we just listen to that audience. Believe me, when you think in terms of how you can make their lives easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful rather than in terms of the “next initiative,” you’ll be so much better off.

So rather than viewing social as just another media, look for ways to use it to its fullest. Create more and better content that truly engages people and creates lasting value. Be helpful. Be useful. Be available. Think of ways to increase conversation rather than affect conversion, and you’ll be surprised at the results.

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