For those unfamiliar with social media marketing, it can be a concept that can be hard to wrap your head around (especially from a B2B perspective).
Questions like “Why does social media marketing matter?”, “What are its benefits?”, “What are social media marketing best practices?” are all very common. Over time, I’ve found that far and away the best way to explain social media and its benefits is by using analogies to make the concept relevant and personal.
Here are the 7 best social media marketing analogies I’ve come across:
1. Social Media is Like a Cocktail Party
This is perhaps the most comprehensive and well know social media marketing analogy. Writing from the perspective of convincing executives of the value of social media, Brad Shorr of Ragan.com likens social media to a cocktail party because “if executives do a good job of working the room at cocktail parties, everybody remembers them. This is like the brand recognition that comes from social media engagement. Brad also notes that social media is much like a party and, like all things worth doing, should be fun.
2. Social Media is Like a Good Husband (or Wife)
The idea here is that brands that excel at social media tend to have many of the same characteristics that make up good husbands, wives and partners. Adam Vincenzini notes that like a good husband, a brand on solid social media footing listens, consults, follows through, anticipates, accepts responsibility and is altruistic.
3. Social Media is Like a Bonfire
Likening traditional advertising methods to a fireworks display, John Willshire contrasts social media marketing by comparing it with a bonfire. He notes that while fireworks are “attention grabbing beacons on steroids”, they’re expensive, short-lived and repetitive. Social media on the other hand, like a good bonfire, takes time to perfect but draws in small crowds of highly targeted and engaged communities that work hard to keep the fire going.
4. Social Media is Like Learning How to Fish
Like fishing, becoming good at social media marketing takes time, effort and a willingness to learn. Highlighting that many businesses are initially disappointed with their social media results (no bites), Aaron Lee notes that as brands learn how to fish properly, they start to generate bites (engagement) as the fish (prospects) respond to the right techniques.
5. Social Media is Like a Putter
Exploring the need to be selective in how you integrate social media into your overall marketing and sales strategies, Lindy Dreyer compares social media marketing a putter since “you need it in the bag all the time. But you only pull it out when it’s appropriate because it’s not good for every shot.” Knowing where and when to emphasize social media is key.
6. Social Media is Like Carpentry
In his post on social media analogies, Richard Stacy explores the importance of context in social media. When answering the question of which social media tools your business should be using, he recommends asking yourself whether or not a carpenter would ever wonder, “Do I need a hammer?” The answer, of course, depends upon the project and the goal. Remember that social media marketing is a means to an end, but you need to define that end very clearly to reach it.
7. Social Media is Like Moving Abroad
This one comes from Uberflip‘s Sam Brennand. Social media marketing can be a bit of a culture shock, just like living in a new city and country with a different language or culture. Before you can gain the full trust and acceptance of your new community, you need to learn about norms, customs and behaviours.
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This blog post was originally written by Sam Brennand and posted on May 27, 2013. The content has since been updated.