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Oct 06 2009
Social media is the shiny new toy that every marketer wants. And why wouldn’t they?
Whether you are spending employee time or paying an agency or consultant, the reality is that social media isn’t free. What’s more, to be effective in social media a great investment in learning and research is required. Most social sites are free to join, but using them effectively takes time and sometimes money.
Social media isn’t free – remember – Time is Money! Doing it right isn’t as easy as signing up. Be prepared to invest.
It would be like hiring the kid who watches the most TV to write your ad copy. Sure it might work out (there are some examples of brilliant consumer created ads), but most of the entries are garbage. The reason is that it takes more than exposure to the medium – it takes strategy, marketing know-how and great creative execution.
Young people are often more active on social sites like Facebook and Myspace, but don’t confuse this with the ability to use these tools to build your business.
It is easy to sign up for twitter or start a blog, but using it effectively to build your business isn’t quite so easy. Many marketers focus on “getting a fan page” or “starting a twitter account” but creating a social media account is only the first step (although arguably it should be the last step – after developing a strategy and evaluating options and resources.
Many companies fail with their social media efforts and give up. Since the barriers to entry are so low, anyone can join, but to be successful dedication, knowledge, strategy, creative and research are required (to name a few).
Social media may be harder than you think – failure rates in corporate blogs are high and many corporate twitter accounts lack any real engagement (sometimes by both the company and consumers).
When using social media to build your business be prepared to roll up your sleeves and do some work.
Social Media takes time – both to listen and understand the communities as well as to figure out how to use it effectively.
Getting it right in social media is difficult, and it takes trial and error. TV ads have great ROI but marketers spent decades perfecting the ads down to a formula. When entering social media be prepared to try different things and measure results. There isn’t a magic formula – different things work for different audiences and in different communities.
Seeing an ROI from social media takes time.
Marketers struggle with measuring social media since it doesn’t always result in a direct transaction – especially if you don’t sell products online. What is more, many people focus on the wrong metrics – like fans and followers – versus effectiveness metrics like engagement and sentiment.
Measuring fans and followers is like using only reach to evaluate the effectiveness of your TV or print ad. Effectiveness is a combination of how good your creative is times the number of people who see it.
There are a number of effective ways to measure social media beyond just looking at followers and fans. What are the click through rates to your corporate site from social sites? How many key influencers in your audience have you connected with? How many people retweet you? What is your score on Twitter Grader or Klout? How many of your fans visit your page? How many bloggers mention you? What is the sentiment of your brand comments online? These are just a few, and the right metrics will depend on your goals and objectives.
You can also set up campaigns to specifically measure twitter. Create a specific coupon code or run social media specific promotions and measure engagement.
There are a lot of surprising success stories with social media – companies that you think would have a tough time using social tools that are actually extremely effective.
That being said, social media isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to it you may end up wasting your time completely. Creating an account that is later abandoned may end up having negative impacts on your organization and can signal that you don’t really care.
Creating an expectation that you will communicate with consumers by a social channel and then ignoring them may create more problems than it solves.
Be sure that you have the right resources before diving in, and set clear expectation about how you will communicate. If you decide to abandon a social channel, communicate it clearly and provide alternate channels for people to get in touch with you.
When entering social media, the first question many people ask is “what should I say?”. The first question should be “Who should I listen to?”.
Prior to entering a social media, spend some time listening to the people that you want to connect with. What are they interested in? What do they talk about? What makes them mad? What are the acceptable norms of communication?
Companies often jump in and lead with a heavy marketing message versus listening, understanding the community and really joining the conversation. By listening first companies can more effectively participate in social communities. Remember, they are social (it isn’t just a clever name).
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