Have You Evaluated Your Social Media Plan Lately?

I recently enjoyed some quality time with a van-load of teenagers while driving them to and from a ‘royal’ amusement park in southwestern Ohio (love ya, King’s Island… Cedar Point rules!). Over the course of a 13-hour day, I laughed, I bemused and I rolled with whatever they wanted to do – it was their day, I was just along to drive (and pay).

During the ride home, my marketing eyes were jolted open by what I could decipher of the cacophony going on behind me.

See, I came of age in this business as the Internet dawned and then gave rise to the social media that brands love – and loathe. Social media became something to integrate in an overall marketing effort – another tool in the toolbox. Have a Facebook page, engage with Twitter followers, use Instagram to capitalize on our love of all things visual, etc. And all is well.

But the Chipotle-fueled spawn darkening the doors of my (the wife’s) minivan were talking about ways of sharing the sights/sounds of the day through apps that I have heard of – but had never used for my clients. Was I failing them? Had I not given due consideration to social media other than Facebook/Twitter/Instagram trinity? Worse still – am I suddenly old and (gasp!) out of touch?!?

Answer: Possibly.

Over the faux-trumpet sounds of OMI’s ‘Cheerleader’ (song of the summer!), the kids wanted to know where they could find each other on SnapChat, did they post anything on their ‘story board’ or use Meerkat, Periscope or WhatsApp?

(More than usual) these teenagers were speaking a language I didn’t fully grasp. But their connections were significant. This day, at this amusement park had become an important part of their summer.

The marketing takeaway: Your social media plan likely needs updating and has for a while now. Social media doesn’t evolve (who’s go time for evolution?!?) social media erupts and disrupts. It’s up to you to understand how best to harness its power.

Yes, we’re talking about teenagers. But – newsflash! – teenagers have buying power – a lot of it. And teenagers become 20-something college grads; later they have jobs, kids, homes and…end up with gray hair and kids telling them they are old and out of touch (HA! Circle of life, b!t#@es).

Throw your hands up in (virtual) surrender? That’s likely your first thought. Don’t. You need social media. It’s the best two-way communication you have with customers. It’s real, honest, meaningful and even powerful. But that cuts both ways. Each of your gazillion Twitter followers represents a chance to tell you why you’re great…or why you’re product/service is a giant bowl of suck.

Embrace the change and the challenge. Just like you did whenever you first stepped gingerly into social media waters, unsure of what you would find and fearful what your customers might say back to you.

Try out SnapChat to see what it’s all about – in an environment where it’s okay to fail. Going on vacation? Take Meerkat for a spin – you can live broadcast your stroll on the beach or give your Twitter followers a glimpse of life in another country (did you really read that?!?! YOU have the power to broadcast to people LIVE. That’s. Amazing.).

Process the results and see how you might apply these apps to your marketing mix. It might make your brand or your business feel young again.