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SMSMS – There’s an Art to it

We conclude 2020 with some thoughts about social media…

For the purposes of today’s observations, I’ve included W.F. Yeames’s 1878 painting of a Civil War scene. I’ve always loved the narrative nature of the picture. It doesn’t demand much in the way of understanding or interpretation. It’s clear that the innocent child standing on the footstool is being questioned, and equally clear that his sister is next in line. In the corner, a very worried mother is depicted holding a third child. Even with scant knowledge of history, the viewer quickly grasps that the questions might just concern the whereabouts of his father...

The painting, on display at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool is fittingly entitled ‘And When Did You Last See Your Father?’ Well, what else could it be called?

Stay with me...

The painting came to mind this morning whilst I was working on some social media posts for our clients. In the wake of all that turkey, tinsel and figgy pudding, it’s only fair that they get a few days to relax before plunging into goodness knows what 2021 holds. It’s important though, that their message never rests. That’s where I come in. I’m like the Puritans in the picture - not questioning children you understand, but rather keeping up that old work ethic on their behalf. It might be Twixmas (what a truly horrible term) but the commercial conversation doesn’t stop for anything. Or at least it shouldn’t...

Which brings me to the point.

Take a look at the picture again. Substitute the boy in the blue suit for the callow Marketing Assistant, and picture the main inquisitor as the Managing Director. Times are tough, every possible route to generating business is being explored. The company magnifying glass has pored over every department, and each has been scoured for any grain of advantage. Now, finally, it hovers over the keeper of the social media keys.

“And When Did You Last Post On Facebook and LinkedIn?” might be the title of this imagined tableau.

The Marketing Assistant stammers his reply, uncertain of the date. He knows that ‘Social’ is part of his endless list of tasks, but although he’s an avid personal user, they’ve never been that interested before...

Here’s the thing.

If you’re a business and you don’t keep your social media channels up to date and interesting, then on your own head be it, as the saying goes. An Accenture study of B2B Procurement highlighted that 94% of B2B buyers conduct some degree of online research before making a business purchase. I wonder what channels they use to perform that task? I think it’s safe to say that social media might conceivably be a launching point...and I wonder what impression they take away when the most recent post on a Facebook page ‘liked’ by seventeen people was made in 2014? I know what impression it creates for me, and I’m no more than a powerless functionary watching a world of glittering prizes slipping through the fingers of those who could do better.

The Annus Unbelievableis known as 2020 taught us much. It drove many aspects of life and business further into the online sphere. We all hope and pray for a return to something more closely identified with life-as-we-knew it, but some things will have changed forever. Your commercial presence in Cyberspace counts - now more than ever, whether you like it or not - and the notion of social media channels as somehow secondary to ‘real business’ is dead. COVID-19 saw to that.

I’m going to put the kettle on now and make a pint of tea before getting back to some content creation and dissemination. As the buffets are prepared, the drinks chilled, and the Zoom invitations sent out all over the world for tonight’s virtual parties, a young marketing assistant in a blue suit is planning his campaign for 2021...

Happy New Year


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