Tuesday, October 14, 2008
What is social media marketing and how can you use it effectively?
Peter Kim asks an interesting question, wanting to know the definition of the term 'social media marketing'. On the surface, it seems like an easy question to answer. It's just marketing using social media, right?
Many companies are no doubt working under this assumption. I think the problem with viewing SMM as being simply marketing through a new set of tools (social media), is that you assume that the 'new' tools function just like the 'old' ones do. The difference, in fact the KEY difference, is that while many of the 'old' tools such as TV ads, radio spots, and coupons are ONE-WAY communication channels, social media is TWO-WAY. And the quickest way for a company to totally botch its efforts with social media, is to treat social media as being a ONE-WAY communication channel.
When you realize that the customers you are trying to reach via social media can quickly and easily interact WITH you, then that changes the dynamics of the interaction. Suddenly, you have to go from blasting a one-way broadcast, to trying to engage your customers.
Another key difference in marketing via social media, versus marketing via 'traditional' channels is this; social media does NOT work well as a direct-monetization tool. But it works famously well if you try to INdirectly monetize your marketing efforts via social media. Again, different tools, different set of rules. People aren't using social media to receive your advertisements, they are using social media sites and tools to connect with each other, to interact and share content and information. If your company effectively uses these tools in the same way, then an INdirect result will be that your company's awareness online, especially among those active on social sites, will grow. As a result, that should lead to a boost in positive online mentions of your company. Which should lead to increased sales. It all happens INdirectly.
On the flipside, if you launch a blog and all you do is tell customers to 'buy your stuff', then your efforts not only won't work, but you will do harm to your company's image. At SBMU, I referenced Graco's blogging strategy. Instead of using its blog as a direct-promotional tool, Graco positioned its blog as a vehicle to reach parents, and to discuss parenthood with them. Very little promotion of the company is involved, instead, it's a blog written by parents, for parents. As a result, mentions online of Graco have almost doubled since Graco launched its blogging strategy, and positive mentioned have increased from 68% to a staggering 83%. That's the power of a well-positioned blog.
If you want to utilize social media successfully as a marketing tool to grow your business, then you have to use social media sites and tools in the same ways that your customers do, and for the same reasons. You have to accept the community's rules, you can't make your own. Social media isn't a one-way broadcast/promotional channel, it's a two(many)-way interaction/communication channel.
What say you? If you're a social media consultant (or if you are trying to sell social media to your company), how do you explain social media marketing to your clients? How do you make them understand how social media marketing works as opposed to the traditional marketing channels that they are used to?
Pic via Flickr user dogfrog