Social media – cutting edge? No way. (Clue #1 – My father-in-law likes to talk about it with me on a regular basis.) It is at the mass adoption stage (or at least mass interest stage as most companies still try to figure out how to adopt it). A recent survey/report, “How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Business,” by Michael Stelzner, points to the fact that just about everyone is in involved or plans to be involved in social media initiatives. 880 respondents rated their experience using social media marketing for their businesses. Only 5% declared that they are not currently using social media.
So if social media is a play for the masses, can it be a differentiator for your business. I never thought I would ever quote Sarah Palin, but “You bet-cha.”
And the crowd responds, “Please Social Steve, tell me, how can this be?”
But seriously, let’s start with a common theme in most of my articles … creating an awareness, winning position, and positive brand of your company starts by having a real, true value that you deliver to a targeted segment. The next step is having an effective marketing plan. This marketing plan includes traditional vehicles and new media communication.
Assuming you have a compelling and attention-getting marketing plan; social media is a powerful tool. (On the contrary, using social media to communicate garbage will make you smell like a landfill.) Social media is a massive mega-phone. It communicates much louder, further and wider, and at lightning speed. Reminds me a little bit of the movie “The Gremlins” – social media is a loveable little creature, but if you don’t harness it the right way, complete chaos and pandemonium will break out. (Am I aging myself here?)
Social media should be used to optimize marketing, but remember start with the marketing basics. Once you have the marketing basics well defined, then develop the social media plan as suggested in a number of other articles I have authored (Before You Start with Social Media, Measuring the Value of Social Media, Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers, Brands in the Age of Social Media, Social Media – What Companies Are Looking For).
Social media can optimize your entire marketing plan and create significant incremental synergy. Here are some social media optimization tips:
1. Increase your linkability
2. Make tagging and bookmarking easy
3. Reward inbound links
4. Help your content travel
5. Encourage the mashup
6. Be a User Resource, even if it doesn’t help you
7. Reward helpful and valuable users
9. Know how to target your audience
10. Create content
11. Be real
The first 5 (1-5) were defined by Rohit Bhragava. Jeremiah Owyang added the next 2 (6-7). The last 4 were appended by Cameron Olthuis. Two later sets of additions were provided by Loren Baker and Lee Odden. (http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/introduction-to-social-media-optimization.html)
In order to ensure that social media provides measurable incremental value to your marketing efforts, I suggest 3 additional tips.
12. Listen – to best understand your audience’s pain, pleasure, motivations, and their vernacular.
13. Test – ensure all communication supports your set positioning statement.
14. Monitor – search for references to your company/brand. When you find a positive occurrence, help the content travel (point 4). When you find negative comments, take action. This may mean a) providing proof it is not so or b) apologizing and stating how you plan to remedy the problem. Be honest – the socialized public knows when you are and are not.
I personally believe that the movement towards social media mass adoption is a good thing and will help your business even if you see your competition getting involved. It all points back to traditional marketing winners … if you have true differentiated value for your target audience and you can articulate your position in a simple, understandable way, you will not only have purchasing customers, but advocates for your company. Social media is the most powerful tool to leverage this marketing/branding position today. Plan and use it wisely.