Compared to typical direct marketing efforts (snail mail, DRTV, email, etc) where an offer is created based on a company developing a product and packing it to meet a need or purpose, a social media marketing program will focuses on creating awareness, relationships and possibly involving communities with creating the offer before it’s every promoted.
As a comparison, take a look at what a typical direct marketing program might look like:
- Develop top level messaging
- Research and build an email list
- Acquire snail mail lists and segment
- Create and implement a series of email offers to the list with landing pages
- Create and implement a series of direct mail pieces
- Setup and run PPC campaign(s) with landing pages
- Craft story and press releases
- Research publications for planned stories and journalists covering the topic
- Distribute optimized press releases via wire services
- Pitch story to industry and regional publications, editors/journalists
- Leverage coverage from pitching as part of final email promotions
- Solicit feedback from those signing up and use as testimonials for subsequent promotions
The list could go on and on really, depending on the budget, timeline and objectives. From the perspective of a traditional marketer, it seems pretty logical, right? It’s a straightforward marketing campaign based on developing an offer, defining a target audience and creating a series of messages intended to communicate the offer and convert. It also uses public relations to augment direct marketing efforts in addition to leveraging positive feedback for subsequent promotions.
While the above overview marketing plan is pretty straight forward, it runs contrary in many ways to the kind of digital marketing programs that companies the world over are warming up to: Social Media Marketing.
With social media marketing, there is an assumption that there is already involvement with the social communities involved – profile(s), network of friends, content submission, voting and participation. That’s the big mistake most marketers make when trying to promote products and services on the social web. They’ll create an account on a social media site, put up some content and expect the social media world to be their oyster without having built a network first.
So, what would a social media marketing focused program look like as an alternative to the direct marketing promotion above? Â Let’s take a look:
- Monitor discussion on social communities and networks for key conversations, keywords and topics
- Identify top concerns relevant to what the company is promoting and develop messaging for solution
- Identify influentials in the social communities, bloggers and authorities – ask them their opinion
- Identify media types most often used with topics and communities – text, video, image, podcast as well platforms for communication: blog posts, comments, microblogging, status updates, social network notes, social news and bookmarking and as possible, direct messaging and IM
- Create messaging specific to media type and platform as way of sharing information about the offer
- Create content destinations that explain the offer and that also offer the opportunity to interact, share opinions and comments – blog posts, video, event pages on social networks (like a landing page, but focused on being informative and encouraging discussion, not salesey)
- Reach out to influentials on a one to one basis, recognizing them for sharing their opinion, explaining the offer and your goals – ask them to join in in spreading the good word. Explain what’s in it for them and what’s in it for the community.
- Monitor the communications that result in the most signups and provide feedback on progress
- Offer influential bloggers a “free pass” to blog the event or a preview of what’s being offered
- Recognize participation and contribution to reaching goals
- Continue to engage interested participants and communities
Seems like a lot of work and possibly more effort than it’s worth to a traditional direct marketer. But to those involved with social media and social communities, it’s familiar territory. Focusing on developing solutions based on what the audience wants, then involving the community in developing and promoting creates evangelists for the promotion. Recognizing participation energizes the community and can multiply the speed and breadth of message distribution, discussion and action.
Social marketing invests in social communities with useful content/solutions as well as participation and recognition. That investment delivers long term dividends far beyond a one time promotional program using direct marketing tactics.
If the budget, timeline and resources warrant it, a combination of both sets of tactics can be very appropriate.