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Swimming Against The Tide: Marketing Without Social Media

Social media is a very broad church. Since it’s emergence a decade and a half ago, the popularity of social media, in general, has skyrocketed. With around three billion online users connected to one site or another, there is no escaping the grip that it has on our lives.

There are lots of subcultures that exist within mainstream social media. After all, it now attracts people of all ages, and from all walks of life. From teenagers to second world war veterans, social media has something for everyone. All of these people mean one thing for business, marketing demographics. Having a captive user base with massively profiled likes and life history allows companies to pick and choose exactly who gets to see what message. Social media is marketing gold for many businesses.

Most businesses these days have a strong social media presence, usually running accounts over all of the main sites. Many fully embrace the experience, creating content daily, and really engaging with customers in the comments section in a truly memorable way. Others employ the use of artificial intelligence chatbots within their messages, to allow customers to interact immediately.

It’s a growing and evolving industry, and while many have grown weary in the last few years about the data that we share with social media sites, the number of users is still rising healthily. The developments that may be around the corner, or found in ten years time are completely unimaginable at the moment.

Social media allows businesses to reach the parts of people’s lives that traditional media cannot get. But, social media marketing has become so ingrained in our lives; we barely notice the techniques that it employs.

For some though industries and brands, being involved in social media marketing can be a challenge. For various reasons, there are some industries that are unable to engage with their target audience- while there are others that choose not to. Here are a few industries, and brands that either shun or struggle with social media.

Social Media And The Legalization Of Cannabis 

With its legalization, some countries and states; cannabis business social networks have begun emerging. Some focus on the practicalities of buying, growing and smoking weed. While others are a social forum, and there are even some dating apps aimed at matching cannabis users.

While legalization may have taken place in some areas, there is a grey area surrounding the promotion of cannabis on mainstream social media. It can be very hard for a legitimate cannabis business to reach its customers on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, where the promotion of the drug is banned. Companies such as Emerald Exchange have lost extensive organically grown user bases, as well as the content. The cause of this loss was falling foul of Instagram regulations.

Where many businesses would usually have utilized the power of social media marketing, many cannabis companies primarily focus their attention on SEO marketing instead. All in an attempt to avoid losing their valuable accounts on the mainstream social media sites.

While Twitter offers more potential, as it is more relaxed, the site can be very labour-intensive in terms of growing a brand on there. Interactions need to be managed in greater detail.  It can be very time consuming for a small business to gain the same level of traction on Twitter that it would have on Instagram, or Facebook.

Companies that have won success on social media have focused on providing information, rather than trying to sell. Instagram becomes a challenge. It Involves getting the right type of balance with imagery that doesn’t fall foul of the terms of service, while still meeting the influencer posting style that is so popular on Instagram.

As cannabis e-commerce is banned on social media, the idea would be to get potential customers to sign up to newsletters, to interact off-site, or to visit traditional bricks-and-mortar stores.

This is all pretty new territory, a bit like the wild-west.  There will; however, no doubt be a great deal of change within the marketplace, and within the regulations surrounding social media and cannabis marketing. As more states and countries relax their laws, a new status quo will emerge.

Marlboro, Burnt By The Cigarette Industry

Watch the hit TV series Mad Men, and you will get a glimpse of how the cigarette industry used to be. Lots of money to throw at advertising campaigns that wanted to get a cigarette into everyone’s hands, regardless of the health concerns. Smoking used to be glamourized by marketing, and the tobacco industry continually sought out new blood to supply with a lifetime of products. People had their brand, and they generally stuck with it. So marketing was often targeted towards the young, or indeed the non-smoker.

Skip forward a few decades, and the tobacco industry has been heavily curtailed in terms of marketing. There are significant restrictions on where and how tobacco can be advertised. With many companies restricting the display of cigarettes in stores and banning any kind of distinguishing branding, marketing is a precarious business when it comes to tobacco. Cigarette packages must carry health warnings, and the sight of a cigarette on film or TV comes under strict rules and guidelines.

With this in mind, Malboro completely avoids social media. And who could blame them? After all, one wrong move and they would end up with a lawsuit on their hands.

Their parent company do use social media; however, never for anything product related.

Where regulation is restrictive, again, there can be considerable challenges. Sometimes the positives of being on social media are outweighed by the burden of regulation.

Apple- A Limited Relationship With Social Media

Apple are undoubted, one of the biggest brands in the world. They are global leaders in technology and have some of the most influential market shares across their specific product ranges. At the core of Apple’s technological philosophy is a closed system. Their products are the full package, a perfectly designed piece of equipment which marries components with software flawlessly. While other technology firms focus on just the hardware, leaving the software to the likes of Microsoft, or Google. Apple create both in perfect synergy. The idea of a closed system is that nothing can break-in, and users cannot make changes that will cause their experience to suffer.

But one of the biggest global brands barely touches social media. Their Facebook page barely has any posts, and their page feels like a closed system. In this day and age, everyone has Facebook, and businesses that are not embracing it are usually businesses that are destined to fail. However, the opposite is true when it comes to Apple.

Yet Apple’s marketing strategy does not rely on their own social media presence in the slightest. Where this brand really gains traction on social media is through user-generated content that mentions them, or promotes the brand.

There is no need for them to invest in social media when millions of Apple users worldwide will do their work for them. Social media offers no challenge, except that if they were to use it in the way that other businesses do, it would not match the brand aesthetic that has developed over the last few decades.

Apple has a momentum built upon word-of-mouth. This will continue to grow, as the hype over the next big product launch always gets them great coverage across all types of media, without the need to lift a finger.

Viagra- No Spam Here

While traditionally the marketing spam email topic of choice, Viagra does not have any sort of presence on Facebook, nor do any other similar products.

Again, some regulations restrict pharmaceutical companies in the ways in which they can market. And again, just like with Malboro, it’s often safer to stay away from a monster that you can’t fully control such as social media.

Another problem for the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to social media marketing would be to manage the comments sections. The potential for brand damage, should there be too much focus on any adverse side effects would be very risky.

Conclusion

There are a few things to take away from this. Firstly, social media is not the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to marketing. Yes, it has a tailored reach that is not equalled in any other marketing format.

Customers may well expect you to exist on social media, but there are always other ways to engage. Providing alternative ways to communicate should be the aim of any business that does not embrace social media. There are plenty of different forms of digital marketing, such as direct selling, Google AdWords, search engine optimization, and link building.  And, if the need for any kind of marketing is great, then a company should employ any or all of these tools.

If your business has a second-to-none product, then it can often speak for itself. Once a loyal customer base is in place, word-of-mouth can do the work for you.

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