Social Media Marketing: What, How, Who

The first two questions on every business owners mind about Social Media Marketing is or should be what to do and how to do it.  These should be immediately followed by who will control my Social Media Presence. That being said here are a couple of pointers and things to ponder to get you thinking and going in the right direction.

First things first the powers that be must sit down and put together a Social Media strategy.  You must decide What networks best serve your purpose on the web and how many (or few) networks you want to be on. The obviousness of needing to have Facebook and Twitter accounts does not need to be stated, but your business needs to also look into some of the smaller niche networks that are more industry specific.  These will drive you to more of an interest group than a social group and even though there are a quarter of the users it could end up driving as much if not more business to you than the major players.  Also you must choose wisely while a network like Foursquare would be great for a Bar or Restaurant it probably won’t be so effective for say a gynecologist.

The next step to developing you Social Marketing strategy is going to be deciding How to approach your content and interaction.

As far as content goes the old adage about having to choose between quality and quantity needs to be thrown directly out the window.  Within Social Media Marketing you need both. In regards to the quantity I am not referring to long drawn out post or blogs especially since sites like Twitter only give you 140 characters to get you message out.  No I am talking about frequency; as it stands the largest percentage of users surveyed say they only log on to Social Media sites for about an hour a week.  So making sure you have quality content out there constantly to make sure you reaching everyone in your community is vital.  This leads me into my next point which is the quality of your posts.  As perspective buyers the Social Media community as a whole wants to see posts that hold value to them.  Tips on how to do things, promotions your company is running(77% of users look for incentives and coupons on Social Media Sites), even new things your company is working on or developing. When posting things that might be of a sensitive  nature or considered information only industry insiders would have don’t second guess or worry that one of your competitors might see. If it’s that great of an idea or so effective you can be fairly certain that someone has already thought of it or told a friend, and with the amount of information being posted on a daily basis it has already been shared with the world via the web.

The even trickier and more company specific aspect of the how is going to be interaction.  You have to decide how you as a business and it’s Owner/Board/CEO feel comfortable interacting with your audience and to what level of intimacy you are willing to have.  For example having your full date of birth is never a good idea especially with the amount of identity theft out there.  At the same time you can’t be afraid to let them know personal things about you and your employees if the CEO or their family member does charitable work to raise money for juvenile diabetes that’s something you should let people know and post information on the preparation and progress of that individual.  Also make sure interactions rarely if ever delve into the realm of hostility and bickering. If someone posts negative comments about your comments about your business or services it is important to address them, but do so in a manner that shows you are concerned with their complaint and wish to address any issues the person posting may have.  Never get into arguments defending your product or services it often makes you seem like you are overly defensive or if a big enough company your seen as a bully.  Also make it clear in your Social Media policy that employees are not to engage in arguments defending the company either.  While they may be well intended this almost never turns out well.

A major decision you will have to make is Who will be in charge of Social Media Marketing for your company.  With new technology emerging daily and new Marketing tactics by the hour it’s simply not an option to take an existing employee have them throw on a second hat and hope to have a truly successful campaign.  You need to have a dedicated person or persons, depending on the scale of your Social Media Marketing strategy, to run this project.  They have to know how to develop a Social Media policy for you and your employees, decide which networks are best suited to your business, and what content should be posted on which network.  At first you may want to look into hiring an outside consultant or even an agency who specializes in Social Media Marketing.  As a Social Media professional who works within the Social Media Marketing world I can honestly say I still learn new things each and every day.  So for someone who has not made Social Media Marketing their sole focus they will surely fall behind the curve of what is necessary and pertinent.  Which in turn will make your campaign, while well intended and directed towards the right medium, fall short of what you are trying to achieve. So before jumping in head first take a step back look everything over and make sure at the end of the day you measure twice and cut once.

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Is Twitter the next “It” place for the Social Business

So it’s very clear to myself and the rest of the Social Media community that at present Facebook is the undeniable leader of the Social Networking world.  I mean with them taking steps to consume what was its biggest competitor just a few short years ago in MySpace and essentially starting to transition it into Facebook’s entertainment network. Along with 69% growth between March of ’09 and March of 2010, over 500 million users half of which log in on any given day it’s hard to argue with progress and numbers.  But while Facebook is like a casual conversation between old friends catching up the way you would at say a wedding, Twitter is something much different and more geared towards our current business needs.  Twitter is a soapbox for the world to stand on and introduce ourselves to the everyone present.  It is a large Social gala where you don’t know everyone yet you have the opportunity to meet all these people and have yourself know to the entire party.

The reason more businesses have not already taken advantage of Twitter as their primary Social Marketing tool is because it has not been properly explained to them what it’s true function and benefits for businesses are.  As well as the fact that Twitter is like standing at the podium and not everyone feels comfortable or knows how to stand in the spotlight.  That being said most small businesses are using an existing employee who told the boss they have to get on Social Media because they are on Facebook constantly and see how many brands are their advertising.  These people have little to no knowledge of Twitter and it’s functions and probably only see it as a place to let people know where you ate breakfast and that you just had custom wheels put on at Wheel Concepts Nation.

The reality is that Twitter is so much more and in fact is much more of a marketing platform than any of the other big players in the Social Media field.  With 175 million users (up from 75 million at the end of 2009) along with 65 million tweets posted each day, it’s clear Twitter is a place you can most definitely be heard.  Some of the other advantages for businesses using Twitter that it is set up for you to post and go so it isn’t as time-consuming as Facebook where your success is dependent on constant interaction.  While you are constantly posting on Twitter those posts aren’t creating a conversation that you must engage in they are simply a jump off point for your followers to navigate to somewhere else. Also with Twitter you have the advantage of one feed pooling all users as it is not necessary to be “Friends” for someone to follow you.

With a new look, a new CEO, and a very clear monetization plan in the form of promoted products Twitter IS the ad space of the future taking over where TV, Radio, and Print is leaving off.  With Multi-National brands such as Coca-Cola and Starbucks already approving and endorsing the new format before it has been fully rolled out, and 51% of all business owners survey saying they would like to use promoted products it’s a clear sign that the time to get on board is NOW.

What Twitter is doing is becoming an interest network where businesses can target specific interest groups as opposed to social groups (what you’re in to vs. who you know).  This means when your company presents a promotion on Twitter it will be presented to your particular interest group therefore making them much more likely to take action, because you are promoting something they definitely have an interest in and want.

It’s very clear to everyone in the know that Twitter is where Social Media Marketers need to be focusing their efforts.  And while Facebook is still a very useful and necessary tool that should not be ignored, as it is The Social Network, businesses large and small have the unique opportunity in Twitter to harness a network that is just finding its way. All this at a point when Twitter though not yet the Juggernaut Facebook is, is well on its way.

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Marketing 2.0

I’m not going to sit here and be so pretentious as to assume that I know what the landscape of Social Media Marketing will look like 3 years from now.  Social Media is evolving right in front of us, often times with us, as a response to our needs and wants as a public.  The simple truth is that Web 2.0 is a rapidly shifting entity where hot trends and major players change as often as its users update their posts.  I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that there is no such thing as a Social Media Expert; enthusiasts,sure; professionals absolutely; and certainly advocates, but none can truly claim expertise.  Here, however, is what we as professionals and enthusiasts know for certain about the present and future of Social Media marketing.

Technology is being developed at a daily rate to integrate and simplify how it is we post content to multiple channels, as well as analyze the metrics of how that content is performing.  These are our attempts as businesses to make social marketing a cost-effective tool that can be macro-managed.  While these tools are important and essential in today’s world of infinite Social channels, they should not be the sole focus of marketers in the Web 2.0 age.  We should focus on engagement and our audience, because they alone determine the future of Social Media.

For too long traditional advertisers approached marketing as a way to impart their will on the consumers, and almost force them to buy something they neither wanted or needed.  In today’s world of marketing all of that is changing.  People recognize when advertising is disingenuous and subsequently disconnect.  Web 2.0 needs to be about the audience from a true point of view, the brands who flourish will be the ones who display true transparency of their business and motives.  We must realize that with everyone being given a platform where thier voice can be heard, our goal as a company must be to satisfy the desires of our customers.  If we can learn to stop talking and start listening we will grow to understand the culture and become another member of that community.

No marketing approach is as powerful as word-of-mouth and with hundreds of millions of users worldwide Social Media is the new word-of-mouth. 

Another key component in the marketing world of Web 2.0 is treating your employees as you would your consumers.  Engage with them and make them a part of your social marketing process as well.  If you can make your employees feel as though they are contributing more than just being another cog in the wheel they will reward you with loyalty and devotion.  Henry Ford understood the importance of this and the value word-of-mouth had even through employees. He took a gamble that by paying his workers nearly triple the average salary for factory workers that they would in turn purchase his Model Ts.  Ford’s bet paid off and his employees became walking, talking billboards, giving us one of the first examples of true word-of-mouth advertising.

lastly in the world of engaging, content is king.  You must be intereting and original. There has to be real value and sincerity in what you are putting out there.  It’s not enough to just go out there and put a coupon every third Tuesday of the month and hope it works.  The social community wants to know who it is they are buying from on a very human level.  They want to have conversations and know that a company wants to hear what they have to say.  In closing, I would like to remind everyone that in the world of Social Media if you are not engaging and ever-adapting, then you are essentially dying on the vine.

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The Revolution is NOW…

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog.  In the days, weeks, months, and years to come I will be offering my insights and accumulated knowledge on everything social media.  Again, if you have not read the about me portion of this profile I am the VP Market Research for Davanti Digital Media; which means my entire day consists of analyzing the most up to date information and innovative technologies within the world of social media to decide what is important now and what is going to be important in the future for Davanti and it’s clients.

That being said, I would first and foremost like to welcome everyone to the web 2.0 revolution.  If you haven’t started facebooking, tweeting, blogging, or any of the other various forms of social interaction via web 2.0 you are already behind.  Not to worry though, because even with hundreds of millions of users, Facebook and Twitter are still in their infancy, just like the rest of the social media world.  However, now is the time to get on board or you just may miss the social media boat, and as a business owner ( small or large) in 2010, this is one boat ride that you can’t afford to miss.

The single most important thing that business owners are not grasping about this new and improved form of marketing is that it is not driven by big money advertisements.  No, in fact social media marketing is just the opposite of that with web 2.0 business and marketing is being driven by your consumers and how well you interact with them as an audience.  65% of facebook users say they would take a recommendation on a company from a peer over traditional advertising.  So what business need to do is engage, but more so than just engage get out there and engage in the proper ways on the proper channels.  Owners need to know that facebook is more of a conversation than a selling point, and that twitter is more informational than conversational.  These and a million other little nuances of the various social media platforms is what makes this world exciting and formidable all at the same time.

Remember the most important thing above all else is to get out there, how can you even attempt to play the game if you aren’t even on the field.  You will stumble along the way and you will have successes along with your failures.  You won’t ever know everything there is to know about social media for the simple fact that it is always changing.  Unless you have all day to monitor and research things are going to get by you.  I will do my best to give you the most knowledge I can provide you.  But remember no one ever succeeded without first trying.  So get out there get involved and engage.

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