Social Marketing Steps To Success

Social media – the most overused term in marketing since Web 2.0 – is not simply changing the nature by which we consume online media, it has morphed into a way of life on the Web.

We are no longer talking about simply building websites, writing blogs, or optimizing Pay-Per-Click Advertising campaigns; the media world in which we live has become location-based, review dominated, App heavy, text happy, plug-in this and plug-in that – and do it all within 140 characters!

Planning a Social Media Strategy is about as straight forward as asking a toddler to “sit still for a minute”. So what is a Marketing Director (or Community Manager, or Digital Marketing Manager or anyone else for that matter, we don’t even know what to call ourselves anymore!) to do?

Social Media has morphed many skill-sets together and may be managed by a variety of different people or positions within an organization.  Generally, an outside agency should be brought in to set up a social strategy, as well as train and execute a brand social community – but long term, the heart and soul of your brand should be managed by trusted and skilled team members within your organization.

Having said that – stick with the three S’s and your digital media efforts will be integrated with your overall marketing efforts and will ensure success and ROI.

Strategic, Streamlined and Sexy:

1. Be Strategic

Build your Social Media and marketing campaigns with a strategy in mind, and with the right resources and a plan in place to make it happen.  Start with what channels you need to build a presence on.  Don’t jump in on every channel until you are doing one really well.  Maybe you have a killer Facebook business page but it’s time to grow the community.  Perhaps you have not had the time or knowledge to dedicate to LinkedIn for your Sales team, but you know the networking tool could really make the sales process easier.

Write a pain point about each social channel you are already using or think your brand needs to have a presence on.  What are you (or your competitors) doing well, how could you improve, how you measure your ROI, what resources are in place to manage it, and goals for each community for next year.

As one wise Chick on our team always says “plan the work, and work the plan”.

2. Be Streamlined

No one marketing campaign has ever worked in isolation.  At the same time, each of your communities will be different in the way you deliver content, respond and engage with your followers and brand champions.

Be smart and streamlined with your messages.  If you are looking to run a contest on Facebook – ensure you plan it out properly, and ensure all roads lead to a point of conversion.  Conversion may be more “likers” or traffic to your website, but ensure that your target audience follows a path to enter the contest and do what you intend them to do.

Also, be streamlined in your efforts overall – avoid trying too many tactics on too many channels.  Stick with what’s working and make sure you streamline your resources to be able to manage your social brand over the long term.

3. Be Sexy

Yes I said sexy.  Digital media allows us to think outside the box.  Try some unique marketing tactics and have fun with it!  If you are going to dedicate time and resources to develop a presence on social communities – you better use them to their fullest potential.  You have to stand out, shout out, and be proud of your brand on the social web.  Learn to listen and respond instead of pushing out messages to your target audiences.  The social web is the place to show the personality of your brand and really engage your consumers – not to announce a 20% off special.

There are many other must do’s as you are building out your digital media campaigns for 2012, but if you keep these points in mind, focus on good design and content, and at the very least commit to allocating resources to get in the game in 2012 – you will be ready for any “likes” “Diggs” “pokes” “plus’s” “sparks” “circles” or “huddles” we may be talking about next year.

 

Twitter for Tourism

Coming off busy few months of speaking to groups about online marketing strategy, I must conclude that this year the big burning question is Why Twitter? The Facebook phenominon has continued to evolve. I remember when there were only one or two people in a room that would admit to being on Facebook. Now audiences happily admit to their addiction to and even share stories about their experiences and successes.

    The verdict is still out on Twitter it seems. Although we have run across some great Twitter success stories over the past few months, there are also some very confused marketers who are wondering why they signed up and what they are supposed to be doing there.

    Last week in Halifax, we met the tweeting “Hotel Dog” as an example (aka http://twitter.com/thehoteldog or @thehoteldog as she is known as in Twitterland) who is a chocolate lab at the Best Western Chocolate Lake Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has been tweeting now for a few months to a loyal following and is even now featured on the home page of the hotel’s main website http://www.ChocolateLakeHotel.com .

    She gets fan tweets, fan mail, and has become an attraction unto herself at the hotel. Having a dog like Cocoa (her real life name) as a concierge also allows the hotel to engage with an audience of dog lovers who may also like to travel with their dogs. The Best Western Chocolate Lake is pet friendly of course. Now there is a great use of Tweeting in Tourism to engage a consumer audience!

    I too keep hearing the research that reports that only 5% or less of North American’s are actually active on Twitter and that other social media channels like Facebook continue to expand to audiences that now include all demographics etc. etc. (It has now been confirmed though that my 82 year old Grandma Ivy is not the oldest Facebook user in Canada – but she is one active social networker!)

    Interestingly I put a call out to my “tweeple” this afternoon asking the question (in 140 characters or less of course so please excuse the grammer)

    Tweet: http://www.twitter.com/acoupleofchicks “Looking for feedback…Twitter working for B2C or just a great place for networking and B2B? thoughts?”

    This is the beauty of Twitter – one can shout out to their peeps and get some great feedback fast. A second validation for Twitter to consumers came from the http://www.fairmont.com/empress“>Fairmont Empress Hotel Tweeter who responded with the following via Twitter:

    www.twitter.com/FairmontEmpress “BOTH…success has to due with part instinct and part response. I get excited when I see RT of special offers & events posted.”
    With more than 900 followers I think it is working for Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel.

    Specifically I was looking for some comments about measuring the ROI of Twitter for a business to consumer audience. When we are asked in our workshops whether or not someone should be Twittering, the answer is always “it depends.” I can definately attest to the power of the Tweet for building professional credability, business to business networking, and for me and many of my fellow tweeters – fun!

    Then we come to the most recent news that Search Engines Google.com and Bing.com will index not only Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages and profiles, but also Tweets and updates in the very near future.

    Wow – now there is a game changer!

    The implications to this are too much to discuss in one Blog post, but it will definately shake things up in the future for businesses that rely on the web to reach their consumers (are there any that don’t anymore really?) Check out this “Marketing on the smart web” Blog post by Joe Buhler who discusses some of the implications in some more detail.

    In summary – at this point I will stick to the mantra that you should not jump into any form of social networking intiative for business (or personal for that matter) without a full understanding of the channel and the people using it.

    But I will say that the indexing of real-time results from status updates and tweets is reason enough to take a good look at all social networking vehicles as perhaps a necessary marketing and PR focus in the future.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
alicia.whalen@gmail.com
905-401-2249

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