Do you remember in the past we were told that the web changed everything? That doing business would never be the same. That print advertising and salesmanship was going the way of the dinosaur. The traditional business models were out and only an online business presented a viable way of doing business. With the dotcom bust we learned (I think) that you can’t run a business at a constant loss because you eventually cease to be in business. Now once again find ourselves being told that traditional business has been overridden. This time it’s called social media so as you get deeper into this new “marketing venue” keep it in a balance with your business pan, your marketing plan, and your available time.
1. It is just another channel. That isn’t to say that it does not have its own unique flavor or that it isn’t exciting, but it is just another marketing tool. Keep in mind social media marketing does require specialist skills. But these special skills are still based on established, sound, traditional marketing wisdom; any deviation from this is in being able to execute your plan through this medium. You and other social media gurus have not found the nirvana of marketing, only another way to get the job done.
2. The myth of inbound / outbound marketing. I recently sat through an online webinar (I really don’t like them) that tried to argue that in the past we pushed marketing messages at our audience, but now our prospects would somehow come seeking us out for information on our companies. What planet is this guy on? Marketing, regardless of how and where it is done, is about creating a captivating message and placing it in places that our prospects will find it, see it, and hopefully act upon it. Do you really care if that is on in a flier or on a bill board, or on MySpace? It is essentially all the same. The style and use of what you put out there must work for the channel you are using, but again that is basic Marketing 110. As for twitter, about the only reason a business should be tweeting is to attract attention to your brand and your company. Does your marketing message have anything what so ever to do with telling people “what you are doing”. Do your customers really care? Think about it. Social media, same as other media, depends upon you creating captivating content.
3. If you can’t measure it don’t do it. Measuring ROI is not hard, in fact it is easy and frankly if you don’t do then I suspect that you are not really in business. Of course trying to measure the ROI on a single Tweet or a single post to a group on LinkedIn is ridiculous. The point of measurement is the ROI from LinkedIn or MySpace in total. Consider each of the new media channels as a “campaign” in their own right. One of the down sides to social media is the additional step of “conversation” has a cost (time cost) that you will have to go through and a necessary evil. It causes extra work (read cost) and yes it slows down the campaign (reduced effectiveness), so you need to factor all these factors into your thinking when evaluating the different places and parts of social media (LinkedIn, MySpace, ning, MC, Facebook, etc), but don’t be taken in by those that claim you can’t measure ROI from social media, you can and you must. At the least get a timer to time the time you are on the sites and create a excel spread sheet to keep track of it and the hits you get off each site.
4. Selling is bad; it is all about the community and participation. Have you ever tried to place a PR story was really an advertisement? It just doesn’t work does it? You need to treat social media in the same way. No hard sell, deliver on messages in a well structured way, ensure that once their interest is grabbed to follow you and create a trackable (think ROI) way for them to engage with you, not at you. Accept that you might have to do come out and get actively involved in the SM experience before you get your desired goal. It is all about community and participation!
5. Social media introduces the revolutionary concept of dialogue. This is almost right, but not completely. In the past marketing did the prelim work and sales did the dialogue in active f2f interaction. It is now all bleared together? As a marker you are going into a new world of marketing in real time. You are going to have to brace yourself for some conversations with your target market. Worse yet, is that they can talk back at you. So you need to figure out how this real time dialogue is going to be managed.
I know that a number of people will simply say that I don’t get social media or that I’m too old school. Really? I’m here actively working it aren’t I and you are reading this blog aren’t you? So I offer you the thought that there is “getting in it” and then there is “being swept away by the hype”. I am happy with the getting in but don’t think I will be swept away. The skill of a good marketer, and I hope your marketing person or company is to understand the dynamics of each new channel and figure out how to apply it to your or their clients company and when and how to use it. Marketing must deliver a ROI, I do believe that businesses are there to generate profit and above all I do believe that social media is just another marketing channel to be judged in the same ways as any other.
Larson & Associates
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