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A Strategic Approach to Social Media Marketing

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A Strategic Approach to Social Media Marketing Social media marketing is more than just implementing social bookmarks on your site in hopes that your content spreads like a virus. It’s more than seeding your content in sites like Digg; and/or trying to game their voting algorithm.

It’s more than creating profiles and adding bulk loads of friends in all the social networking sites and blasting out bulletins.  It’s more than creating a link bait video and distributing it in Youtube. And, while social media optimization is an important approach to your marketing strategies, there is more to it. Since the majority of marketers plan to increase spending on social media, it’s time to start thinking strategically about social media marketing. I have mentioned in a previous post that social media is community driven. It’s within these very small and targeted niche communities that viral marketing can give birth; and where conversational marketing can begin to take root. However, before you start spending countless dollars on social media marketing, you should read on.

Define Your Target Audience

It would literally take me days to list out all the social networking/social media/web 2.0 sites that exist today; and even if I had the time, there would be dozens more launching tomorrow. The point is that these sites attract very different users. The demographics of Myspace have changed dramatically; and just because they have several million users doesn’t justify you spending time, energy and resources there. To begin the process of defining your target audience, you should first take a quick snapshot of your users/customers you have today; and ask yourself:

  • Who is your most profitable user/customer?
  • What’s their demographic profile?
  • What characteristics do your users/customers have in common with each other? In other words, what is their psychographic profile?

This valuable research will you help you answer many questions (i.e. where they are spending their time? What are their interests, desires, and hobbies? What are they passionate about?What motivates them?) Additionally, defining your current users/customers will help you craft a marketing strategy and give you direction on which social media channel you should pay attention to. I have seen too many brands that have Myspace profiles just because their competitors do; with no clear strategy on what they are really out to achieve. Establish Your Metrics Measuring social media is definitely a challenge. There are no easy metrics to measure the performance of such campaigns.Of course, I there are the standard metrics (clicks, impressions, etc.) as well as some other metrics to think about if you are blogging, podcasting, etc; specifically around social media optimization.

Without a clear understanding of what your goals are from the beginning, you will find yourself questioning whether or not social media is the right channel for your business. If it’s just web traffic that you are after – no problem – but be sure you have analytic software installed; same concept for your conversion metrics. In most analytic packages, you can set up goals and monitor the conversion rates from specific websites. Regardless of what your metrics are; it’s wise to know what you will be measuring before you actually engage.

Be Authentic

In addition to transparency and disclosure, another characteristic of social media is authenticity.When marketers decide to engage with social media users and begin having community driven conversations, they need to talk with real voices. It’s called Conversational Marketing and it’s something all marketers must embrace if they want to succeed. These conversations should be open-ended and the community should be in the driver’s seat.  Forget the marketing fluff and don’t just pretend to be interested in what they are talking about. Listen. Don’t inundate them with offers, banners or marketing speak.Consumers today are savvy enough to see right through it.

It’s Relationship Marketing 101 with a twist; whereby marketers first build long-term relationships with customers and then focus on monetizing those conversations.

Monetization

Speaking on monetizing these conversations, every marketer will approach this step differently.It really depends on the nature of your business (what you are selling). However, once you define your target audience and understand their true needs and motivations; and, after you reach out to them and have “real” conversations with them – then – you can begin your monetization strategy.I would recommend taking it slowly and start monetizing in steps with a clear process in mind. Otherwise, if you put on your direct marketing hats too fast, you may scare your consumers away.

Keep the conversation alive

So you finally defined your audience; built a relationship with them and even made some extra cash.  The last thing you want to do now is abandon them. Your life-long goal should be to increase the value of your target audience; and essentially create brand ambassadors.These ambassadors will be the cornerstone of your brand and will stick with you through thick and thin.You can do this by keeping the conversation fresh and alive; soliciting ongoing feedback about your products; and of course throwing in some awesome rewards. The best example I can give is what Dell is doing with their site, Ideastorm; where they are giving voices to their customers and soliciting their feedback for future product releases. And guess what? Dell is listening and acting on those suggestions.

Face the facts

Guess what? Consumers today demand to be heard, whether or not you are listening.  And, if you try and interrupt these conversations with a direct marketing approach; your product may go viral, but not with the message that you were expecting.

There is a time and place for direct marketing, don’t get me wrong. I am a big believer in it.But, not while you are conversing with them about topics they are passionate about.

 

A Strategic Approach to Social Media Marketing
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  • http://www.igorthetroll.com Igor The Troll

    Excelent work, straight to the core of it.

  • http://www.tips-and-guides.com Internet Marketing Blog

    The social networks have opened up an entire new arena for optimization tactics. And, the people who are still attempting to use the static websites, with the same old optimization techniques will (and are) definitely fall behind.

    I have found Digg to be my biggest beneficiary in the social arena. You can use Digg to get Google to find your website or blog posts. You still need to have good content, but Digg is a monster when it comes to rankings.

    Good Article!

    Mike

  • http://www.smartzville.com/marketing-help Laura

    This was a great post Michael, thanks for posting it. Agree on all counts. I’ve often refered to this decade as ‘The Age of Authenticity’.

    Moving on to read more of your thoughts…

    Laura Childs

     

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  • http://www.diigo.com/user/boots72 L.W. From Diigo

    Good info. Web 2.0 is without a doubt going to be the new way to get your views across, whether it be personal or business.  One thing I like about what you said is to be authentic.

    Have real discussions, don’t fake it.  People can see it from a mile away.  Imagine going to a blazing fire dressed as a fireman.  You’ll look really ridiculous when people expect you to put out the fire, and you have no clue.  You’ll look just as ridiculous trying to fake personal conversations online. 

    Give real value and real advice.  Spend real time, and get real results…

  • http://travel-guide2india.blogspot.com travelling to India- Famous places in India

    I follow only three steps to make my social marketing campaighn successful.

    • Create the hook
    • Communicate to help
    • Give without expecting anything in return
  • Jeffrey Pipes Guice

    I’m interested in reaching social network websites who are interested in trading equity for a $10,000,000 media campaign.

  • http://www.m4s73r.com/ Internet Marketing Indonesia

    thanks for your article. Very help me. I will more like visit to webpronews site. :) Fantastic

  • http://www.terminationplace.com Voip Terminator

    Great detail on using the social networks. Optimizing your site just got a little bit easier. Thanks Web Pro News!

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