Saturday, March 6, 2010

Marketing and the Cloud – II Using Social Media

Using social media as a marketing tool is growing rapidly in virtually all segments of the market today. Marketing teams dream of coming up with a strategy to engage large numbers of potential customers with compelling messaging – the YouTube video that “goes viral”; the Twitter superstar who attracts an instant following; or a Facebook page that creates “fan-demonium”. If you are looking for the magic formula here, please move on to the next post. However, I do think that there are three principles that are emerging, that, not surprisingly, echo some of the key learning from internet marketing, and even from good old-fashioned direct marketing, and that make success more likely.

First, let’s be clear. Social media marketing is not “free”, nor is it “easy”. The basic tenets of marketing still apply. Know your audience. Know what you want to say to them. Know what you want your audience to do next. And know what you want to do next. That said, here are three things to consider.

1) Content is king. What you say is important. If what you say is important to your audience, they will follow along. If it looks like a commercial, they will skip it. So, it is critical to create interesting, relevant, and timely content. The goal is to get potential customers to hear your message.

2) Follow-through is the name of the game. Most marketing teams know what to do with someone who responds to an ad, offer, or invitation. Social media contacts are no less important. Deciding how to reinforce the messages that attract fans and followers is one thing. But keeping the interest of the fans and followers is a time-intensive and thought-intensive process. Let them drift away at your peril.

3) Fans and followers don’t just happen. And, they are not permanent. From a business perspective, they follow because there’s something of value for them. Attracting them takes time, as does finding the right content to keep them around. Once you start the process, the worst thing you can do is let it get stale.

As always, comments are welcome, encouraged, solicited, and hoped for.

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