Here we are mid-way through 2010 and social media marketing is finally growing up it seems. Facebook’s world domination continues apace, with their 500 millioneth member joining last week, a ‘recommendation’ partnership with Amazon in the offing, and a nifty ‘fit any website’ Facebook ‘like’ button now available.
Twitter have confirmed that they will be adding multimedia to their streams in the near future (you can already send audio tweets), while mega brand Barbie joined Foursquare on 20th July and will apparently be using the service to fashion location-based scavenger hunts as she travels across the US, using Twitter to tweet out text, photo and video clues.
Simultaneously we have had the glorious Old Spice social campaign, which has helped sales of Old Spice body wash increase by a whopping 107% in the past month, plus the announcement that Ben and Jerry’s are going wholly social (and ditching email marketing) a mere two years after they first dabbled in social marketing.
Despite all this, there are still a lot of businesses under-utilizing social marketing and far too often we see companies half heartedly doing ‘a bit’ of social media, or even enthusiastically doing ‘a LOT’ of social media, and then get disappointed when it fails to deliver the goods.
However, not getting a return on social marketing means you really have worked hard at failing, because as Forrester has recently found, the brand benefits are enormous, even when you can’t measure them. So if you have yet to find social success for your business or brand, it is likely to be because of one, or more likely all, of the reasons below:
1. Lack of integrated strategy – just jumping in and hoping for the best is unlikely to win you any prizes, fans or good sales leads, but is likely to occupy far more of your time and budget than you bargained for. If you really want to make social marketing work for you, get yourself a digital strategist on side and commit for the long term. This is not a short term, quick buck environment and a pro who knows what she or he is doing and can tell you where your potentials hang out and enable you to engage with them while implementing and interpreting all the necessary analytics and measurements… well, that’s pure brand gold.
2. Lack of cohesive branding and brand management – your brand is a living entity and just bunging it online without thinking it through will guarantee a fragmented brand experience across the different platforms. Take the time to identify your core values and find out how your brand is perceived from outside your organisation, and be committed to creating a unified brand presence. Ditto for the people doing your social marketing – the person who sets up a Facebook or LinkedIn business page, for example, has the control – and that’s permanent unless they officially pass the baton, so make sure your social brand doesn’t leave the building with your temp (you laugh, it’s happened!), for example, and be sure everyone who is allowed to represent you in social media land is completely on message, has your social media staff plan engraved on their forehead, and knows exactly what you are trying to achieve.
3. Lack of knowledge and expertise The medium is new(ish). The sociology and arena are not. Get educated about what is and isn’t possible, and remember this is really just ‘business as normal’ – ie it’s all about meeting people, albeit in a different environment and building a relationship so hopefully they decide to buy from you. And don’t just hire the cheapest option because yes, there are still peeps out there selling themselves as social media ‘gurus’ or ‘experts’ with little or no knowledge of how an integrated marketing, PR and social campaign should work and how it must be set up across platforms to provide the highest potential visibility, positioning and therefore returns. The rule of thumb is that no VA, temp or office junior is ever going to do your business any good with ‘a bit of Twittering’. If you are serious about adding social to your marketing mix – and you should be – get real experts in to do it professionally or risk looking as much as a dope as Vodafone did earlier in the year.
4. Lack of knowledge about your audience – I know this might come as a bit of a shock to you, but your clients and potential clients are not sitting there waiting for pearls of wisdom and information to be issued from your corporate HQ. Most are just getting on with their lives, and what with all the information flying around, most have the online-attention span of a fly. They have to or else they wouldn’t get any work done or have a life to lead! And even those who are fully engaged with the brand, as Ben and Jerry’s fans seem to be, do so for the entertainment factor as much as for the pleasure of consuming the product. Rule of thumb here – find them, understand what they like and how they like it served, make content interesting and to their tastes, and place it carefully under their noses repeatedly in as many different way as you can until they engage, being careful not to blast them or p*ss them off, because they can disengage at the click of a mouse… Note: this is not advertising, you are NOT telling them what to do, you are inviting them to have a relationship.
5. Lack of consistency and commitment – you start, you get busy or bored, you stop. And any interest you may have built up in your brand online dies. Social media land is littered with the debris of abandoned profiles, and how does that look if, for example, you search for a company and it brings up a Twitter account and the last entry was 8 months ago and that was, say, a promo (ie own advert) or worse still, a ‘what I am having for lunch’ kind of tweet. Lame is probably the best you can say, and the worse case scenerio is that the company looks uber dodgy.
And if you want to do it properly for your brand or business we would be delighted to help. We specialize in helping B2B companies, particularly software, IT, gadgets and technology, publishing, media, travel, women’s interests, mums and parents, recruitment, finance and food. We do comprehensive audits that tell you exactly how your website/brand are performing online and what needs to be done to improve your brand profile and reputation, or if you prefer to talk, please contact us today on 0845 862 0017.