Recently SugarCRM recognized Epicom for its marketing efforts. A large part of Epicom’s marketing strategy includes using social media as an outlet for communication and promotion. Social media is my passion/addiction. However, it has occurred to me that many businesses aren’t seeing the value in social media while others expect far too much from it.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Countless times I have heard professionals speak about social media marketing as a branding and marketing cure all. “It’s a promotion strategy!” FALSE. Social media itself is not a “strategy.” Rather, platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and the like offer an outlet for communication, making them powerful tools for strategic planning. The impact of the plan comes from having something to communicate.
Before delving into the social mediasphere, you need to answer a few questions.
-What is the voice of my business? (Think Barbara Walters or John Stewart?)
-Who is my audience? (Stay at home moms or professionals on-the-go?)
-What am I trying to say? (“This is what I had for lunch today,” or trending topics in tech?)
Did you watch this season? So good. Anyway, the new generation craves a connection with everything. They don’t want to just buy a sweater. They want to buy a sweater from a label that they identify with. Social media allows for that identity connection. When it comes to corporate tweeting, it’s important to figure out how you want your company to present itself on the web. While your online presence is young, you have time to play around with this.
Warning: sales tweets lose followers. Sales tweets are just like spam. “I love reading SPAM mail,” said no one ever. All business, all the time is boring. No one is trolling your twitter to read about your ROI. Social media allows your audience to see that your company is made of real people. I’m not saying tweet office gossip, but don’t be afraid to tweet about office outings or give a shout out on an employee’s birthday. Consumers want to know they are doing business with actual humans.
Even a B2B business needs to engage its audience. This includes RT (Retweeting), responding to Tweets, contributing bloggers from various departments, and overall interaction with the audience. Businesses, like people, love being noticed, mentioned and praised. Flattery will get you far in the world of social media.
An Audience of Who?
It may prove to be more useful to figure out who you are trying to preach to before you stand up to the podium. If you’re marketing for a tech company, chances are retweeting stay at home mommy bloggers isn’t improving credibility (unless you work for Diaper Genie). Figure out your market and who is making the decisions. Chances are, that’s who you are trying to reach.
Tell Me Something Good
Nothing is more annoying than a pointless text.
Sender: “Hey, what’s up?”
If you don’t have anything to say, you’ll flat line. It’s meaningless and over all, obnoxious. This is where companies can fail in terms of social media. “No one is clicking through to our blog!” Are you putting out meaningful content? Not all the content has to be earth shaking, but it should have a reason. Don’t overlook the power of repurposing content, as well. Maybe a blogpost from a few months ago deserves some updates for reuse. Regardless, content should have a reason: to inform, to educate, to entertain, to promote etc.
Additionally, if your lag time between blog posts is longer than Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy, don’t expect many returning readers. Readers not only want fresh content, they want frequency. During a scholarly survey I took of seven friends via gchat, 100% said they spend the first hour of work reading industry related blogs and newsletters. If you don’t update regularly, people forget about you and stop frequenting your site.
If you walk away with one beacon of knowledge, remember this: social media is not a “strategy” on its own. For an effective strategic effort with social media, know who you’re talking to, what you want to say, and how it needs to be perceived.