Still not confident about ‘social media marketing’? Do this…

I still speak with Directors, marketers, so-called consultants, and new startup entrepreneurs who are confused by hyped strategy and a ton of options when it comes to social media marketing…

To really understand social media, new marketers and seasoned directors find it helpful to first grasp the following dynamic of the web’s evolution:

Web 1.0 was all about ‘presence’

Company’s had brochure sites, with basic contact forms and a contact phone number.

Customer engagement was essentially limited to just those channels.

Oh the simple days…

There was email of course, and some of you will remember bulletin boards, AOL, the original Usenet, etc.

But companies were not using those mediums to co-create, collaborate or even so much as communicate with their audience.

Those that did, became the now forgotten legends of the go-go 90s. Including yours truly.

But as more company’s went online, and the technology burgeoned, the new frontier turned into a jungle of rich media applications, discussion forums, fly-by-night startups that lit up the cyberspace sky only to frizzle out of sight…

The essence though is exactly the same.

In a word:

Conversation.

And that’s what Web 2.0 is about: ‘conversation’

You see, social media is any medium in which anything social happens. Simple.

Keep your approach to social media simple and you’ll increase insight and accelerate progress.

The questions to ask are always the same for any form of marketing:

  • Where does your target audience hang out?
  • What do they talk about? (what are their complaints, their challenges, their wishes as relevant to your product category)
  • How do they typically find resolution? (competitor products, etc)

From there, you’re developing customer insight / buyer profiles… segmented per different social stream (Facebook buyers are different to Google Adwords buyers).

With that profiling you develop a proposition, an offer, a solution, a product.

See, it’s straight forward in principle.

The trick is having the commitment (budget, resource, mind-set) to be… authentic… genuine… patient… and open…

… for social conversation that builds engagement, brand preference and custom.

And that’s what brands find difficult…

Or at least have done, until more recently, with more liberal customer service empowerment allowing agents to respond to the customers personalities in-kind.

Remember, social is about conversation… ‘media’ just means whatever the medium of conversation.

In today’s world this includes tags, likes, shares, video, private messages, email, chats, hangouts, g+’s, g+ circles, rss feeds, commenting tools, forums, Q&A tools, bookmarking, pinning, and on it goes and will continue to go.

Stay focused on these traditional marketing questions:

  • Where does your target audience hang out?
  • What do they talk about? (what are their complaints, their challenges, their wishes as relevant to your product category)
  • How do they typically find resolution? (competitor products, etc)

And find ways to actually impact on your target audience.

Demonstrate customer impact through whatever measures of ROI, clicks, CSAT, NPS, engagement, visits, etc.

And then scale to cover more social channels and more segments.

Don’t be concerned about what’s coming next (in the near future we’ll probably be sending eachother holographic messages), just embrace authentic conversation with your audience now, and social media will quickly make complete sense.

How to start?

Just go find a conversation happening within your market right now, and post a comment to it.

If you don’t know how to find your audience on social media sites, pick the obvious social sites (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, etc) and go find relevant conversation.

Want an example?

Ok.. go to twitter.com and use the search box to search a few relevant words in your market. And see what’s being talked about today.

How about… yoga mats?

 

See the tweet by BeBalancedYoga… how much better might their blatant advertising go by interacting with any of the other tweeters talking about yoga mats? Much better I’m sure, it just takes a bit more consideration.

Once you’ve found a few different hangouts for your market and checked out the conversations that are happening, you’ll soon want to explore tools to help with social listening so you can capture more of the market.

And that’s where social media really gets interesting.

Topic for another time.

First, get used to actually responding, directly, personally, to any of the conversation happening in your market.

About the Author camarada