Are You Taking Social Marketing Seriously?

We all talk the social marketing talk. Whether it’s in blog posts, books or dinner party conversations, the air of business is heady with the jargon of social media as a marketing tool – demographic slices, viral videos, tweets, followers, traction, penetration, and a thousand more buzzwords that seem to fit the theme.

It’s easy to talk the talk. The question is, are you really walking the walk?

A New Age

Social marketing isn’t just about taking old approaches and applying them through new channels. It’s not that you can’t apply the old ways on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can apply those old ways anywhere. But in the new world of social marketing, they won’t gain you the traction to get ahead of your competitors, or even ahead of where you are now.

Old approaches to advertising were about putting out a single mass message. You reached millions of people, and hoped to attract a few thousand of them to your products.

A campaign built for social media is far more sophisticated and more tightly focused. Instead of wasting effort on reaching a mass market, it targets the customers most likely to want your products. By being personal and targeted it reaches them in a way that mass marketing never could. It is more focused, more effective, and will beat old approaches every time.

Giving to Receive

This means that your marketing can’t just be a matter of empty slogans. Your marketing is a bid for a customer’s precious attention, and it will win if it provides something of more value than the alternatives.

Customers are not passive sponges waiting to soak up your advertising messages. On social media they are constantly choosing between options, deciding what to pay attention to. So your social marketing shouldn’t just be a barrage of links or reminders of the sale that you’re running. It should give the customer new information, new entertainment, something of value for their lives.

This need to give something out to receive something in return is very visible in the growing indie e-book market. Hundreds of authors give away the first book in a series for free, knowing that this will draw in customers. By giving readers something of value they ensure that many will pay to read on.

You need to give to succeed.

Working for the Win

Social marketing is about personality. It’s about showing what’s unique about your organization and the people working there, about letting potential customers interact with those real people. It requires dedication and hard work, and it benefits from everyone getting involved. That means that social talent should be a consideration in training and recruitment, not just for marketing and media departments but across the organization. For public facing roles in particular, social media training and experience are a must in hiring and training.

But the most valuable resource in all of this is often the worst used one – the CEO and other top officers. These are the people at the top of the company, its public face, yet shockingly few engage with social media and even fewer do it well.

If a company is serious about social marketing then the CEO should be a social media presence, letting people put a face and a Twitter tag to the company. These can be the stars, the personality of your organization, and really draw your customers in.

Have a look at your social marketing. Do you give to receive? Do you train and recruit for social marketing? Are your top personalities of show? And if not, what opportunities could you take to do this better?