The recession has put major pressure on marketers to deliver results, and many are responding by increasing investments on social marketing. The reason?
Social media provides relatively inexpensive tools that can quickly get marketing messages out through interactive discussion and rapid word of mouth.
But how does a business go about making social applications a permanent part of its marketing efforts?
Plan for Success
According to James Wallace of Kontent Creative, a Vancouver design studio and web development group that helps clients tap into the social media realm, there needs to be a cohesive company strategy in place for social media interaction.
This helps ensure your company message is consistent through all channels, he explained, whether you’re tapping into Twitter, the company blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any of the other many social media sites.
To establish the inherent value of the online networks you are connected to, Wallace said you need to ask yourself:
- Do these networks support collaboration?
- Can your users/followers/friends share information amongst each other?
- Can they share information with your organization?
This type of free-flowing collaboration is key to user interaction and engagement.
The New Media Model
Wallace stressed that social media platforms derive their value from both the collective and the individual at the same time – not from the masses.
“This is a reversal of the traditional, single message, mass marketing pushes of the past,” he said. “In this realm, it isn’t necessarily about the content anymore, but how you connect the customer or client to the content and the conversations that ensue.”
It’s these types of conversations, he noted, that garner the most value or insight into how your organization is perceived in the marketplace.
It’s About “We” Not “Me”
Participation is mandatory, insisted Wallace. “Any socially driven effort needs to be participatory,” he said. “Failing to do so provides no consumer or client trust in these closely monitored relationships.”
He said organizations need to look at the Web differently, suggesting: “The concept of the Internet as ‘property’ is over.
“The tech-savvy Millennials and Generation Y have considerable online clout and have begun to move into the marketplace with vast buying power,” said Wallace. “Collaborative and participatory media in all its forms that passes from one platform to another, seamlessly, is the expectation of these consumers.
“Millennials want to read it online via laptop, post it from their iPhone, stream it from their BlackBerry and then SMS the link to Twitter,” he added. “The mindset is a ‘we’ not ‘me’ view and the door is open to collaborative, fully-shared online environments that fall outside of traditional marketing circles.”
Steps to Social Media Success
Kontent Creative shared these steps to fully leverage social media, in a bid to build meaningful relationships that gain access and acceptance within your market community:
- Start small with one platform – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.
- Listen to what people are saying on social networks and determine what value your organization can add.
- Have a strategy – this will determine the time, internally, that is spent on social media applications and will dictate the focus of engagement. A strategic plan is the single most important key to effective engagement.
- Engage within your chosen platform and commit to establishing relationships. Abandoned or ignored relationships foster mistrust. Note: Posting rules need to be defined — a social media policy for company engagement should be established and agreed on.
- Step away from the machines. Social media applications do well to foster conversations, however, nothing can replace eye-to-eye conversations. Attend real world events and put a face to the posts.
- Measure your success on an established timeline basis weekly or monthly. Solid business relationships are not built on a mouse click. Ask yourself: Did we learn from our customer/client interactions? Did our client/customer learn something about the organization? Was there true and valued engagement?
Kontent Creative is a Vancouver-based design studio and web development firm that provides organizations a full spectrum of branding and marketing services.