Renee Prejean-Motanky

10 Tips For Social Media Marketers

In Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Social Media, The Internet on July 11, 2009 at 12:56 am
Social Media Very Basic Overview
Image by litbel via Flickr

Businesses these days are engaging with consumers in new ways through social media like YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook, Myspace, LinkedIn and others.  Many set up their own social site or designate an area on their existing Website. 

Whatever vehicle you choose for your business, these are ten key lessons about social media that every marketer using these vehicles would be well-advised to take to heart:

  1. Every Brand can and should be “Social.”  – Conversations about your brand and products are happening everywhere.  You need to be a part of the conversation (not to control it, but to add your voice!)
  2. Just Get Started!  It doesn’t require a large budget to get started in social media marketing.  Start by listening.  Set up Google Alerts to monitor conversations about your brand or product.  Use TweetDeck and set up a search to monitor what is going on about your brand or product on Twitter.  Then participate in the conversation.  Just remember to be authentic, honest and transparent.  If you take those first steps and engage in the conversation , you’ll l learn more about how your brand fits into the social media space.  This will guide future programs that you may launch.
  3. Integrated marketing VS Social Media.  There is a difference between an integrated marketing campaign that includes viral components or onllne/offline coordination and a social media program.  Marketing campaigns have a short life. They, generally have a particular focus and are designed to capture the attention of your target audience.  A social media program is a commitment to engage and communicate with consumers when and where (online) the consumer wants to communicate and at no other time. If you start a marketing campaign with social components versus implementing a social media program, it’s important to start with the end in mind.  The worst thing you can do is build a group of fans, friends or followers around an initiative without a clear strategy once the marketing campaign is completed.
  4. Find Your Own Unique Path.  What works for one brand in social media doesn’t necessarily work for another.  A movie franchise communicates very differently with its customer than, say, a video arcade.  Your unique traits should be reflected in the content you create, the tone that you use and the online programs that you develop.
  5. Expenditures for Publicity.  Companies can spend a lot of money trying to launch a social media program.  Most of those efforts can be classified as part of an integrated marketing campaign.  Your approach and funding of an integrated marketing campaign should  be in line with the size and scope of your overall marketing budget.  Social media programs are much more cost-effective when viewed strictly from within your “media” budget but they need people to manage them.  So, in many cases you exchange media dollars for staff time and its relative cost.  If you are at step one: listening to and engaging in conversations about your brand, for example, while there’s no media buy someone must be dedicated to scanning and responding to the network.  That person needs to be an employee of the company.
  6. PR Agencies can play a great role, but the “VOICE” needs to be your company’s.  Remember that the consumer wants to connect with you, not your PR agency!  Your agency’s role, if involved, should be to monitor and identify opportunities. But it is the company who must respond – Authenticity is key.
  7. Get legal professionals involved from the beginning, if you have legal considerations to comply with.  Your legal department or consultant can be an ally or a roadblock.  It’s important to understand that there is not a lot of legal precedent to reference in the social networking arena.  This makes your legal experts nervous.  You want them on your team, so involve them early and help them understand your goals. This should help solidify a partnership.  When risks are identified, ask them to help you find solutions rather than put the kibosh on a program.  There are usually solutions to mitigate risk.  Together you can find these.
  8. Have a Crisis Management Plan.  In a world of 24/7 communication, the brands that can respond quickly to a crisis will be the brands that weather the storm.  A good crisis management plan must begin with active monitoring.  Good judgment must be exercised to distinguish a customer service issue from a crisis needing management.  Once a crisis has been identified, it must be responded to quickly (with a couple of hours is reasonable.)  Taking no action will certainly escalate the issue.  Immediate response helps nip a crisis in the bud.  You may find that, if your company has been active in the social media community for a while and has amassed followers who trust you, they may lend to your credibility by defending you!
  9. Convincing the C-Suite.  One of the most popular questions  asked by corporate public relations staff about social media programs is; “How do we garner the support of the “C-Suite for a social media program?”  Having a clearly defined objective is critically important to gain support of any initiative.  Since the C-Suite is most focused on ROI (Return On Investment), it’s important to demonstrate to them, why social media have become so important to the bottom line.
  10. More about Return On Investment.  Discussions regarding the return on investment of social media are prevalent these days, and with good reason.  In a tightening economy, businesses are scrutinizing their spending, anxious to ensure, that resources are being allocated wisely.  In the emerging social media space, ROI has been redefined  by some as “Risk of Ignoring”.  So when  the decision maker in your company asks you the ROI question, your answer should be, “Yes. If we create a plan, and set goals, then we can measure the returns …”
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