Social Media Marketing: Getting with the Program

February 26, 2009


[As featured in Sigma Blog]

The shift towards social media today is huge. Numerous articles, case studies and statistics extol the myriad benefits of this powerful new marketing movement each day.  However, getting your feet wet in social media can be quite a challenge as social media is not just another medium or channel where traditional marketing messages can be pushed. Instead, it’s all about understanding the culture of participation. And then harnessing and incorporating that into all your marketing and business processes.

So, what is the best way for an organization to embrace social media?  Here’s some of our top-line suggestions:

1.  Set a goal. All marketing programs, from advertising to promotion, starts with a defined goal. The same is true for social media marketing. Some of the common SMM goals and uses are:

  • Converse with your market:  Corporate voice community
  • Build and reward loyalty:  Loyalty community
  • Generate ideas: Innovation community
  • Customer support: Peer support community
  • Stimulate a passion: Enthusiasts community
  • Build and maintain buzz: Events community
  • Create excitement: User-generated content or contest

A note about virals: As much as you may desire a “viral-something” (video, site, email, etc.), please keep in mind that “viral is a result, not a goal/strategy”, as Scott Monty stated in his recent tweet.  Also keep in mind that something will only become viral if your prospect thinks it’s worth passing along to other like-minded individuals, and so on.

2.  Realize and accept that everyone now has a voice. This mean your employees and customers as well as your detractors.  Technologies collectively known as Web 2.0 have spread widely among consumers over the past five years and today, everyone has the potential to be a content creator. Social networking websites (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, etc.) attract more than 120 million unique visitors per month and more than 82 million people in the US created content online last year.

Therefore, if you want to succeed in this new social world, you need to engage the people you want to reach by meeting them on their own turf, or by creating a turf that you make available for them (e.g., community).

3.  Don’t fall for ‘build-it-and–they-will-come’ syndrome. We have seen so many programs where a company focuses solely on a splashy design and tools and forgets to pre-populate their community with valuable content. We have also seen programs launched with promising content only to find out later that there are no updates as well as those without a proper marketing plan behind it to gain traction and visibility.  Please keep in mind that when a potential member comes to a community, the only way to have them join, share and return again is through fresh, compelling content.  Additionally, build out a support plan and schedule to promote your social media effort (e.g., SEM, SEO, social media seeding, PR, display ads, integrated into appropriate offline messages, etc.).

4.  Social Media is more than a campaign. It’s about having a holistic marketing program that includes leveraging social technologies over the long haul. It’s about socializing with your brand fans through commitment, integrity and honesty. At the end of the day, social media is about building relationships—this means you don’t just show up one day and then disappear when your campaign is over.   Just like in a real relationship, you have to treat social media users as you would treat the people in your life. Get to know them, interact without promoting and earn customer trust through transparency.

5.  Find the team to champion your SMM effort. Identify and enlist the right people in your company to spearhead the social media program. These people need to believe in the initiative and have the experience, energy and passion to engage others in the effort.  Additionally, choose a social media-marketing vendor to help you bring your goals to life and deploy the appropriate technology solution.  There are only handful of companies in the world with the right suite of in-house resources to effectively and efficiently support/operate a social media program.

The above is just a sample list taken from hundreds of suggestions. To find out more, feel free to contact us or explore some additional information on the following posts.

–  Ron Jone’s Social Media Marketing 101 – Part 1 and  Part 2

–  Adam Ostrow’s (Mashable) What are the Benefits of Social Media Marketing

–  The McKinsey Quarterly’s Six Ways to Make Web 2.0 Work

–  B.L. Ochman’s  Debunking Six Social Media Myths

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Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2 Responses to “Social Media Marketing: Getting with the Program”

  1. Angela Says:

    What a great resource – I will likely share with my clients. Many Thanks!
    Angela Reich –

  2. Jennifer Says:

    Glad you liked it. Opened to all visitors : )

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