This post was originally published on Fifth Gear Analytics.
There is so much hype these days about social media best practices. Some say it’s a waste of time, others say it’s just a bunch of noise. For those who believe either of those, you are entirely missing the point of social media. Print media and direct mail are most certainly not dead marketing channels, and brands are still sending messages through TV, radio spots, billboards, and paid online ads. What social does, is make your brand… well… social!
Social media channels afford a new method of two-way dialogue between brands and consumers, whether B2B or B2C, that did not exist a few years ago. The key is to deliver the same brand messaging through your traditional marketing channels and push additional interactive content through social channels that supports your communication strategy. But wait, there’s more.
To put the “social” back in social media means that the two-way dialogue becomes the key to your social marketing success. Chances are you already have loyal brand consumers, and they are most assuredly out on social media sites communicating with their networks about their experiences, likes, dislikes, victories, failures and so on. As a brand, why would you not want to engage in those conversations and truly get to know your community of brand loyalists?
At the end of the day, yes, you have a product or service to peddle and you want to generate sales through all of your marketing efforts. And true, you need to be able to measure the return on your investment on resources allocated, whether dollars or personnel – but where social differs slightly is the mindset you need to have when embarking on building a social community.
The power today is in the hands of the consumers, and with so much information being pushed at them from a million different directions, they are more educated than ever before (or have the ability to be). What is it now that drives a consumer to your brand over a competitor’s?
Today’s consumers expect more from brands in the way of quality communications. Here is my unofficial list of a few un-measurable results that social media can achieve:
- A positive emotional reaction when your brand is presented to them, whether it be in a Tweet, a Facebook news feed, or a comment on a friend’s wall.
- The feeling of not just being a dollar sign to a brand, but rather a person who matters.
- The feeling that the brand is transparent and open to incoming dialogue from consumers.
- The ability to complain about a brand, to a brand, and be heard by the brand.
- The ability to influence their network of friends because of their loyalty by sharing experiences and emotions about your brand.
All of these things can be equated to a friendship. Your friends, hopefully, make you happy and create a sense of joy. To your friends, you matter. Your friends are open to two-way dialogue, both positive and negative, with the end goal always being to maintain the friendship and grow your relationship. You and your friends share experiences – good and bad – and influence each other about what you do, eat, buy and where you go.
While I admit, most businesses are not into the whole “touchy-feely” scene, they should be about building relationships. You can touch your consumers through many channels, both traditional offline channels, and, on a more interpersonal level, through social channels. Your social strategy should not be one of just pushing content out to the masses and hoping that something sticks. It needs to be about sharing, listening, reacting, talking, and sometimes even laughing. Get to know your brand loyalists. They already love you.
The investment of social marketing takes time and resources, and does require a more human approach. Your social marketing strategy needs to be very tightly aligned with your overall marketing communications plan. Social channels are just that – channels – and should not be managed in a vacuum, but in alignment with all other marketing initiatives. There needs to be someone on your end of the line who is listening, reacting, measuring and adapting. As your relationships grow, your network and reach will grow – and ultimately that will lead to more dollar signs. These things take patience and perseverance.
As a business, of course you need to measure conversions, referrals, sales and other ROI metrics through listening platforms, lead capturing tools and web analytics tools. Just don’t lose sight of the people who you are trying to reach. If you don’t consider your audience of great human relevance, then you are just a media hound to the masses.
Put the social back in social media.