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Social media is a powerful new communications medium that reaches over 350 million people a day. So what is social marketing?
It is a rethinking of marketing opportunities so that they are:
Social media marketing is pull, not push marketing.
New techniques such as BLOGS and Search Engine Optimisation are critical.
Top 10 Social Media Tips for Beginners
Business Week recently said that "Millions of people are creating content for the social web. It is highly likely that your competitors are already there and your customers have been there for a long time".
It is critical that you create a focused plan to leverage social platforms to achieve real business goals. You need to think about your overall business strategy and the role social media might play in achieving these goals.
There are a number of ways to leverage social media:
Let's look at these one at a time.
Social media touches over 350 million people a day, the most direct and immediate channel into the hearts and minds of consumers. This enables brands to find evangelists as well as deserters. It is up to you to craft the message to reinforce or change attitudes.
The majority of business lost by companies is not due to competitors (9%) but due to not paying enough attention to customers (68%). Social media enables constant contact and feedback maximizing positive brand equity and gives customers the support they seek at very low cost and enables them to be connected to a large pool of consumers who think like they do. A very positive win:win.
It is imperative for companies to get high quality information on clients, competitors and marketplace changes. Launching new products, new brands and new target markets requires constant up to date knowledge. Traditional market research has been expensive and slow. Social media enables real time analysis of consumer trends; focus groups in cyberspace and real time dialogue are possible at a fraction of traditional costs. You need experts to analyze the information but you can get literally millions of consumers discussing their rational and emotional needs in real time.
You can play a behaviour supporting role in the life of your consumer. You can build a social relationship with the brand. Starbucks have launched a slew of social tools across platforms from Facebook to iPhone. Do not barrage your potential customers with ego driven "how great you are" information. Social media is about them, not you.
Social media is the ideal vehicle to craft great promotions, putting bums on seats and creating a WOW viral campaign. When created thoughtfully, great promotions get passed along very quickly, continually doubling themselves also instantaneously.
This follows the old established formula of:
Excite > educate > motivate > convert.
You need to plan strategically to bring your prospect along the path to where they are ready to buy. This takes education. Brands need to leverage the interactive capabilities within social platforms to educate and motivate their customers through discussion boards, video, images and testimonials. Unlike 30 second commercials, social networks enable you to create a dialogue and build a scenario over a long period of time, enabling education on even the most complex solutions.
Just about any form of transaction and revenue generating application can be integrated into social platforms. While their applications can be complex, they are inexpensive and you are always close to the customer.
New Product Development
Companies are leveraging the collective brainpower of their social media fans to identify innovative new market opportunities and assist with the development of new product concepts. Cisco awarded a $250,000 prize to social media fans who created a new commercial opportunity. By doing this, a company is not limited to the brainpower of people within their 4 walls.
Customer Relationships Management
Social media is the new version, albeit an infinitely faster, more fluid and more interactive version of mailing lists that were so important with traditional media. Being able to build millions, even tens of millions, of fans very quickly and maintaining a constant dialogue with them enables endless possibilities.
Social media is possibly the most exciting development in communication history and will have a profound effect on the world, both commercially and socially.