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Marketing With Social Media

Five tips for integrating social media into your marketing mix.

By
Aliza Sherman,
May 7, 2009
Episode #052

 

Hi there, The Digital Marketer here, ready to help you put the power of the Internet and technology to work for your business.

Yes, I'm doing another show on social media because, frankly, I'm being bombarded with questions about how to market using social networks, blogs, microblogs and other social media tools so it is clearly a topic on everyone's mind. A major issue folks seem to be having is knowing when and how to integrate social media into their overall marketing mix.

Use Social Media for Marketing the Right Way

Social media marketing is just a new set of tools and a new grouping of older tools in a way that helps you listen, assess, and stimulate the conversations going on regarding you, your company or your brand. Here are 5 tips for making social media marketing an integral - and manageable - part of your marketing efforts.

1. Start Thinking About It Yesterday. If you have a marketing strategy these days that doesn't at least consider social media marketing tools or tactics, you're "behind the 8-ball," as they say. I don't mean to scare you or overstate the value of social media, and I'm certainly not trying to contribute to the hype. But any smart marketer looks at all of the tools at their disposal -- and not just the ones they've been using for years that they're comfortable with but that might not be working as well anymore.

Before you go gangbusters and off your corporate mission or away from your business objectives to focus on social media, make sure that you have the capacity, can tap into the expertise, and have a good reason to be blogging or tweeting or facebooking and the like. If you're not comfortable with new technologies or learning curves, turn to someone who is and who can help you first determine if social media makes sense for your company.

Bring an experienced social media marketer onto your team or hire an agency with some experience with social media that they can point to. That means case studies, a social media client roster, and for goodness sake, a significant presence in the social mediasphere. I can't tell you how many people are hanging up a shingle that reads "social media marketing expert" with little or no significant personal presence or company involvement in relevant social media spaces.

It is fine if after you consult with a social media consultant, they tell you that social media probably isn't right for you right now. Someone who is willing to be honest with you and refuse your business is someone you should stay in touch with for when the time IS right. A good and reputable social media marketing firm will turn away business when they don't believe social media is appropriate. And they're smart because they know that if they take your business and their social media marketing efforts on your behalf fail, they fail, too.

2. Tear Down the Walls. If social media marketing looks like an appropriate and valuable addition to your marketing mix, remove the barriers between the people, divisions, or agencies handling your marketing, advertising, public relations and Internet initiatives. They should all be talking to one another and welcoming your social media marketing person or agency into the conversation.

Note that right now, many traditional agencies and interactive agencies are claiming to know how to implement social media. Some have even brought on some 20-somethings with little experience in the marketing realm to handle their social media campaigns. There is a lot of turf grabbing as everyone tries to plant a stake in the ground and claim they've got social media covered so they don't lose business. You may feel stuck in the middle of a tug-of-war as you get conflicting information from your various agencies or staff.

Get everyone in the same room or on the same call to hash things out. It should become apparent rather quickly who knows their stuff and who is posturing to try to gain or hold onto business that they might not be qualified to handle.

3. Augment What Works. I recently had a client say they were thinking of stopping all of their traditional marketing efforts and putting that budget toward social media marketing instead. My answer? Whoa! Moving toward social media marketing doesn't mean giving up traditional marketing tactics. It means assessing which tactics work and which ones are stagnating, then examining if social media tactics can breathe new life into the old ways or if they might replace some of them. It shouldn't be an either/or proposition. Know your company, know your customer, know your goals, and you'll be able to make better decisions about which tactics are right for you.

4. Move Forward in Phases. Anyone who wants you to blow your budget today on social media tactics isn't being fair or realistic. It isn't fair to think that social media will cure all that may be lacking with your marketing efforts. And it isn't realistic to think that social media can instantly replace all the points of contact that your customers are familiar with. Introduce social media strategically, in phases that roll out over time based on your resources and in a manner that grows organically over time.

Beware of "get fans and followers quick" schemes that automate a process that is supposed to be about conversation and connection. There is little value to implementing impersonal, unsocial methods of getting more Twitter followers, for example, and ending up with 10,000 followers --most of whom are also spambots--who will ignore your tweets. There is far more value in having a few hundred passionate evangelists for your brand who really want to follow you on Twitter and will spread the word to their followers. Don't go for the quick hit. Cultivate your social media garden.

5. Listen, Assess, Converse, Measure, Repeat. If you just put up a Facebook page for your company because someone said you had to have one, just stop for a moment and breathe. In...out... Now, think about why you are on Facebook. Because everyone else is on it? Nah. Because your son or daughter said it was cool to do? Nah. Because you've gone through a strategic decision-making process, have listened to the conversations out there about your company or brand, have assessed the best tools to communicate the right messages to the right people, have thoughtfully entered the conversations in the social mediasphere, and measured results of your efforts? Ahhh, that sounds more like it.

Take your time. As I said at the start of this show, I'm not trying to scare you into doing something you or your company isn't ready for. I just want to get you thinking. Thinking about the way marketing and communications as we know it is changing. And thinking about how -- and when -- you'll start the conversation about social media.

Bottom Line: Start your conversation about social media today. Find the right person or people to help you understand what social media marketing is and what it can --and can't -- do for your company. Even just talking about it could spark some fresh ideas to reinvigorate your current marketing efforts.

Contact Me

That's all we have time for today. Visit the show’s website at digitalmarketer.quickanddirtytips.com for links to all of the sites mentioned in the show plus a few of my favorite social media industry news sources. If you'd like to ask a question or request a topic for The Digital Marketer, email me at digitalmarketer@quickanddirtytips.com or leave a message by calling 206-339-6279.

The Digital Marketer's Quick and Dirty Tips for Building Your Business With Web Tools is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips network at quickanddirtytips.com.

Tune in for another business boost from The Digital Marketer, the host who's not afraid to go under the Internet's hood & get a little dirty!

Resources

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/

Social Media Today - http://www.socialmediatoday.com

Smart Brief on Social Media - http://www.smartbrief.com/socialmedia/index.jsp?campaign=webIndustries

Mashable - http://www.mashable.com

Chris Brogan - http://www.chrisbrogan.com

C.C. Chapman - http://www.cc-chapman.com

Social Media image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

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