04 October 2009

Social Media Marketing Trends: Confusion & Clarification

Time to clear up some of the confusion.

You’ve decided to use Social Media as part of your marketing mix. Good for you! You’ve made it past the first hurdle; recognizing the growing importance of Social Media not just to your marketing, but to your entire business as well. But where do you begin?

While the Internet may be full of articles, posts, tips, tricks, opinions and everything else under the sun about social media, the problem is that there’s so much information available that it can be overwhelming. So I’ve distilled what I tell my clients into three, easy to digest “principles.” Once you understand them, and I mean really embrace them, then not only will all the rest fall into place much faster, but your results will be better too.

So, without further ado; when using Social Media for marketing, you must understand the following:

1. Social Media Marketing is very different from “traditional” marketing.

  • It’s about building relationships with people, not pushing your message at them. As such, it requires the mindset and commitment of a marathoner, not a sprinter.
  • Know that it’s going to take time. While you certainly may get some short term results, you’re also creating value in that you are building long term relationships. Eventually, when one of those people (or their friends) is in need of your service, not only will you have achieved “Top of Mind” awareness, but you’ll also have established at least some degree of trust which helps to build strong relationship much faster.

2. You need to be where your customers are.

  • This is simple; if your customers are, for example, using Facebook and not Twitter, then don’t focus efforts on Twitter. You may find some new customers, but are you reaching enough customers to make it worth your time and effort?
  • Also, the venue defines the tone of the relationship. Twitter is about quick, short bursts. It’s hard to get intimate unless you already have a relationship with someone. Facebook is much better for developing deeper relationships, but if you don’t have your privacy filters set correctly, you could be exposing yourself and letting your customers learn things about you that you didn’t really want to share.

3. Engage with them.

  • I said “with” because you build relationships “with” people and Social Media is all about building relationships.
  • While you may only need to be as open as you want to be, you still must let your customer get to know who you are. Learning “what” you do will then come naturally.
  • Offer assistance, answer their questions and send them relevant links regarding what they talk about. Show interest in them as human beings, not just prospects.
  • Social Media is truly about the soft sell. And who knows, you may develop some great relationships with people along the way.

There you have it. Short and to the point. How do you explain social media to your clients/friends? I’d love to hear all about it, so leave a comment.