Social Media - Why marketers can’t afford to ignore it

Pull recently held a Social Media Roundtable for an interested group of staff, clients and friends. This was an informal gathering that sort of morphed into being. Perhaps that was because we were motivated as much by the chance for some real social interaction in the sunny garden of a local hostelry. . .

We all agreed though that it was a very productive session despite the loose agenda, and have already agreed a follow-up session for 28th August. We will publish a venue and put a sign-up form on our website, but for now, if you are not a million miles from Godalming in Surrey, and have an interest in social media, please drop us a line to register your interest.

The subject of our little get together was: “Social Media – how to use it in business”. I should point out that we approached the subject with the full range of attitudes from: “More like Social Not-working – if I hear one more person twittering on about Twitter. . .” to: “Forget the rest of Internet Marketing, this is the future”.

However, I think it’s fair to say that everyone left the table with the view that any marketer ignores social media to their peril. If you aren’t doing it, and doing it well, your competitor probably is, and you will be playing catch-up. As someone once said: “There are those that make things happen, and there are those who wonder what happened. . .”

These were the key conclusions of this initial exploration of the subject for us:

Forget “Web 2.0”: This phrase has confused the real developments in the use of the web. The real revolution has not been a technical but a social one, with the Push of the web being complemented by a wave of interactivity.

“Multilogues” are at the heart of the new social media phenomenon. One-to-one, and one- to-many communications of the early web paradigm are now complemented by many-to-many communications facilitated by applications like Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t get hung up by the technology platforms: You could waste a lot of time studying the evolution and anthropology of e.g. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn etc. Over time, winners will emerge, losers go away, and new services arrive. Picking the right set of platforms for your social media strategy is important, but as the cost of adoption is minimal; don’t get drawn in to the kind of MySpace vs. Facebook type of arguments.

Smaller firms need guidance through the social media maelstrom. A number of representatives of small to medium-sized businesses said that they would value guidance, and a kind of “how to” approach to successfully implementing social media. As an Internet Marketing agency we will certainly be trying to rise to this particular challenge.

Larger firms are nervous about out-of-control social media. And as a result stifling the consumption and production of social media in their company. However, savvy larger companies are making the most of it, and treating social media the same as they proactively treated PR: Train the right people, and trust them to do the right thing.

We enjoyed a presentation from Emma who works in the adventure travel industry, and has created social media strategies for two companies - including an award-winning approach based around Facebook that built consumer loyalty, and also generated orders. This is a synopsis of the tips she provided the group.
 

  1. Play down your brand and sales approach in blogs and forums you facilitate and Tweets you make – resist the temptation to make every intervention a product plug
  2.  
  3. Build social media into an integrated marketing approach
  4.  
  5. Deploy a Permission Marketing approach (give them an incentive to get involved) and also:
  6.  
  7. “Give something away” in terms of dropping the corporate facade and showing a more human face
  8.  
  9. Allow as many posting as possible – exercise minimal editorial control
  10.  
  11. Answer queries that appear, and address negative comment – without being too defensive – others will likely jump to your company’s defence
  12.  
  13. Track visitor journeys using analytics programmes to measure your social media platforms role in creating sales

 

Overall, we agreed that social media was here to stay, even if different platforms would come and go. Also that using social media was a long term opportunity, and not a short term fix. We were unanimous in our agreement that good brands could be enhanced by the effective use of social media. If you could build the reputation and trust for your brand by facilitating long term interaction and sustained relationships with your customer base, (and improve your search optimisation at the same time!) why wouldn’t you?

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