“It’s no longer about who you know. It’s about who knows you.”~Connie Glover
After TIME magazine featured Mark Zuckerburg on their cover as the 2010 Man of the Year, Fast Company magazine followed with an article about the power of Facebook as part of an overall marketing strategy. “By any measure, 2011 is the year Facebook must be taken seriously by each and every brand. Not because of what it's worth as a company, but because of how that valuation reflects the potential impact of Facebook on every industry including entertainment, advertising and sales of all types.”
But while I will always answer the question, “Do I really need to do social media with my business?” with a resounding “Yes!”, you must commit. Worse than not including social media in your marketing mix, is setting it up, and then not being consistently and frequently engaged. Because marketing is no longer about “telling” your customers what you think they should know; it’s about being actively involved in a conversation.
Social media allows you to listen to what your customers are saying, about you, about your products, and about your competitors. More often than not, when they ask you a question they are really telling you something. And the more you respond to their comments and inquiries, the more you appear to really care about what your customers want. It’s almost like free market research!
This from the Razorfish Digital Outlook Report “Current media mix models are falling down; they are based on older research models that assume media channels are by and large independent of one another. As media consumption changes among consumers, and marketers include more digital and disparate channels in the mix, it is more important than ever to develop new media mix models that recognize the intricacies of channel interaction. Since online media is often linked closely with other media (TV can drive search, search can drive magazine usage and so forth) we need to adopt new ways of measuring to account for the true complexity of media in the digital age.”
For small businesses in particular, there may still be room for radio, tv, and newspaper ads. But paid media is still just that―paid. If you are going to include this type of marketing in your mix, make sure that you are driving product and brand awareness through social media. When you offer a coupon in the newspaper, offer the same coupon through your Facebook page, and then tweet about it! Think about offering a Groupon instead of a traditional coupon, and offer points on FourSquare when someone shows up at your place of business to use their Groupon that they learned about through Facebook! You may find that your marketing spend becomes smaller and smaller as you become more proficient at using various social media platforms.
At a recent digital media training workshop sponsored by the American Marketing Association, and featuring one of my favorite trainers, Dana VanDen Heuvel, a.k.a. the Marketing Savant, he reminds us that in this new economy: We’re not product companies. We’re not service companies. We’re INFORMATION companies.
"We live in a conversation driven world. Even if your brand is not an active user of social media, your customers and your potential customers are. This is revolutionizing the way brands have to think about themselves and how they choose to compete. In a conversation driven world, the real threat is not conversation itself, but commoditization. Unless customers have reason to talk, they won't. And a brand that generates little or no conversation will be killed by one that does."~Paul Worthington, Fast Company magazine.
And Seth Godin, marketing thought-leader and best-selling author of The Purple Cow, Linchpin, and Poke the Box, counsels us to create something that is worth talking about. When, and only when, you can determine what is different about your product or service, and then get the word out through social media, can people determine if it’s worth talking about. And if it is, then that’s all the marketing you need! If it’s worth talking about, people will talk, all over the Internet!
Many small business clients will say, “I don’t have time to do all that!” In this day and age, you don’t have time not to. Really, if you want to reach your customers, then you have to reach them where they are. And they are on Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, and Foursquare. Especially Facebook. You can’t argue with over 5 million users! And your customers are some of them! Like managing your e-mail and everything else, plan your strategy, execute it in a systematic manner, and you can accomplish what you need to in an hour a day.
I always recommend starting with a blog, because a blog is where you can write about any topic, with any number of links and images, without length restrictions. From there, create a series of Facebook posts, excerpts from your blog. And a few times a day, choose short, key phrases from the blog and post as tweets. And then scroll down your twitter feed to see if there are any other relevant news articles or posts to share with your followers.
The key is to engage in a conversation. Take that literally. Listen. Learn. Respond.