"Amplifying" Your Social Media Efforts
RMR was among the first marketing firms to add social media to the marketing tools we recommend for our customers. But "add" is an important distinction here. We have always utilized social media as part of an integrated campaign with numerous media components, but never as the sole method of marketing.
Well, first of all, we firmly believe - and we have proven for our customers - that an integrated approach is the most effective way to market our clients' products and services. You reach different members of your target audience by advertising in trade journals, for example, than you do by contacting potential customers through email lists. Of course there will be some overlap, and that's good. The more times people hear your message, the more likely they are to remember it.
The second reason relates to the very nature of social media. It works better for some audiences, and some types of businesses, than it does for others. Let's examine why that is the case.
Now you see it, now you don't
Social media is an interactive medium. That's the good news. It pops up as news and gets people to react to it. Maybe they'll pass it on to others, it will get a lot of likes or added followers, and generate some interest.
But then it's gone. Poof. (That's the bad news.)
Since social media operates on continuous feeds, it's always changing. In a matter of seconds you get 10 new tweets. The one you sent is long gone. While Facebook posts stay up, they quickly get buried by everyone else's new posts.
Compare that to an article that's written about your company and placed in a trade journal. That has longevity. It stays around to be read, re-read and handed to others to read. Or compare the flash-in-the-pan nature of social media to a PR event that's talked about for months in advance through press releases and ads, makes a big splash the day of the event and lasts for hours, and is then written about again afterwards.
Why don't more people "like" me?
For businesses to maximize their use of social media, they have to get a lot of people to follow their posts and tweets. And not just any people. You want to attract the attention of the people who would be interested in your products and services. Your target audience.
Typically, businesses that market to consumers are much more successful at gaining followers than businesses that market to other businesses. Consumers have become accustomed to turning to Facebook and Twitter for their personal use, but for their business decisions, not so much.
Age plays a major factor too. Younger people were the early adopters of social media, and they continue to be its primary users. Grandparents now use Facebook to keep in touch with their grandkids, but when it comes to finding a bank or a plumber, they're still leafing through the yellow pages or using Google.
Facebook may indeed have 1.06 billion active users (1) and, according to Forbes.com, the number of active Twitter users grew 40% in 2012, to 288 million users per month.(2) These are mind-boggling statistics. But if these users aren't following your posts and tweets, who cares? You may as well be writing in your diary.So how do you get social media to work for you? Does it really have any value at all, besides knowing that 3,000 people "like" you?
Social media can be very valuable when used in the right way. And the right way is different for every situation. The key is to know how to leverage it for you, and to understand what you can reasonably expect social media to do for you.
It can't do everything. Many business executives have been dismayed to realize it isn't the panacea they thought it would be.
But realistically, no other media works as well alone as it does when it's part of an integrated strategy either. We would never recommend that you only use advertising as your media of choice, or that you only hold press events, or expect the articles you authorize to be written about your company to serve as your "sole marketing vehicle."
Social media works best when it's used to "amplify" your combined marketing efforts. We advise our clients to utilize social media in a variety of specific ways, including:
- Create a Blog, make it the hub of your social media activity, and update it often;
- Use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to drive people to your blog, website and other activities;
- Get your clients, partners and customers to post on your blog as experts;
- Subscribe to other blogs so they will subscribe to yours;
- Post often, and encourage your managers and reps to post and tweet to their connections;
- Maximize your social media presence by posting your press releases and links to your articles;
- Create deals that customers can only get by checking in via Foursquare;
- Connect with your Social Media Influencers - the key experts in your industry who can mention you in their posts and tweets;
- Stay active. The more active you are on social media, the more you're likely to get out of it.
Be sure to monitor and assess your use of social media and the results you're getting from it just as you analyze every other part of your marketing campaign, made simple with Facebook insights and Google analytics.
Most importantly, get help from experts who have proven track records in using social media as part of a complete marketing strategy. Just because every "tween" and grandma uses social media doesn't mean it's a tool to be taken lightly.
In the right hands, social media can be a valuable part of your marketing mix and a proven way to amplify all your other marketing efforts.