A financial company had this big event planned which would bring down some heavy weight global investors as well as some key government leaders two months away. They planned to market this event in a big way to attract more attendees from the private sector and decided to use an integrated multi-pronged plan with email campaigns, a single newspaper advertisement, call in known press contacts for some offline PR and wait for it….social media marketing!

Now this could have been a great strategy to reach out and spread the word about the event inviting people to come attend but the catch was they didn’t have a social media presence or online engagement they could tap into so they decided to engage a social media and online marketing company that could help them create a web presence for them since they would be busy with preparations for the event. Now deciding to create a social media and web presence for your company IS a great idea. What was wrong with this particular case is the plan was to spend exactly 2 months engaging on social media, setting up a blog, a Facebook account, connecting with groups on Linkedin, Twitter…..and then STOP until much later in the year when another similar event was planned.

Social media can not be compared directly to television advertising or other offline media. It doesn’t work on the principle of flash a message to a known sized audience and pay accordingly (Online advertising does that but not social media engagement). It’s about constant interaction, communication and building that community / audience and that’s not a quick ‘put together’ and sell ….it’s build and nurture over a long time. Blog audiences are not built in a month or two, neither are Facebook groups or social influence on other sites. Not to say they can’t be done with a large budget and paid online advertising but you get what you pay for and to grow a social presence online organically and build lasting relationships with people online, that’s not a viable strategy.

Think of it as a conversation (which is exactly what it is). When you stop activity, stop publishing, stop updating, stop answering, replying or communicating online…..that is the end of the conversation. The other’s in the room with you have little option but to leave the room or move on. You can’t build a relationship based on a single conversation in any social situation online or not. Stronger relationships are built when you keep in touch, keep communicating and stay in contact. Social media and online presence is great for marketing – but it can’t be a seasonal strategy which can be turned on an off.

This company is not alone in their resolve to use social media and invest in online activity for a few days of the year only when it’s strategically needed for their marketing. There are sporting clubs and franchises that engage a million strong fan base for a few months of the year when the season is on and then cut off all activity when its done. Sure season is when the interest peaks and the sponsorship revenues come pouring in for the teams and clubs but what about the fans? Do they stop being fans once the season is over? Do they stop reading about their favorite players or not want to hear what is happening off the field through the year till the next season? There are businesses from every field occasionally dabbling in social media and then letting the activity slide like it’s a seasonal campaign but there’s no such thing when it comes to social media.

There’s always advertising to turn to for instant demand generation but inbound marketing and social media marketing is not about that and doesn’t fit there as a solution to short term demand increases. It’s about relationships and like any dating guru (or social media influencer) will tell you…you need to invest time and effort in any relationship and work at it constantly to strengthen it.