Blog Gold 2010: Going social

In this post from February I suggested that there is natural suspicion and confusion about the importance and return on time spent on developing your online brand using ‘social media’.

At the time of writing there were high profile news stories involving Manchester United banning their players from Twitter and Coca Cola issuing guidelines on Twitter use which demonstrated just how nervous leading brands are about the interactive and uncontrollable nature of the medium.

I think the problems start with the terms of reference. ‘Social media’ and ‘social marketing’ are, I feel, misleading titles for the technology that allows you to build contacts, links, friends, followers and fans on the major networks. The reason the name concerns me is that social marketing typically refers to campaigns built around public awareness, public information and or public safety. And the use of the word social may imply it is for fun, personal and informal. All in all, this doesn’t make it the best moniker for a technique trying to entice professional business.

And as a result, companies are left naturally pondering whether there is a return on investment to be made from social media, or if it is just a gimmick afforded by technological advancement rather than meeting a business need.

But, the simple undeniable truth is that the Internet is here to stay. It is the first resource for buyers (B2B Marketing’s Buyersphere research proves this), suppliers, customers, job seekers and anyone researching a purchase or looking for a recommendation before making a purchase.

Sites like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube attract users in their millions for strong psychological reasons, namely the need to belong and share. They have helped relaunch old brands, affect reality television, and recently play a role in elections. Because they attract millions every day, they are deemed high volume and if for no other reason than to assist your search engine optimisation prospects, you should create a profile (with a link to your site) on every single one of them.

In social media, there are a great number of experts queuing up to offer advice. These typically fall into two camps. They either tell everyone they should be doing it or instruct most people not to bother.

There is, however and obviously, a third option which involves careful and coordinated use of some of these resources designed to achieve set marketing objectives and deliver against key performance indicators. Social media can be used to engage with and provide superior customer service, provide product advice and updates, or to help engage new customers. Used thoughtfully, you can achieve high visibility, achieve business credibility and drive traffic to your website and aid conversion. Check out this post from September 2009 if you are starting out now.

Think strategically, start small, and don’t spend a whole amount of time on it. That way, going social can be effective for you.

Original posted 16 Feb 2010. Image courtesy of Capacity Marketing

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