The latest buzz emanating from my fellow marketers is that traditional marketing is dead, replaced by social media marketing strategies. Hogwash! As usual, marketers are looking in the mirror and falling in love with their own images and prognostications.
Great social media marketing strategies are all about branding, positioning, communicating, engaging - all of which are integral to classic marketing processes. My take on building effective social media marketing strategies:
Branding is critical to any company and the core building block to any social media marketing strategy. Differentiating your products and services via brand positioning is a crucial marketing imperative, especially in today’s warp speed comment-driven echo chamber known as social media. Its critical to define your brand or risk having others define it for you, which is dangerous.
- Zappos did a wonderful job of taking a staid market (reselling shoes) and branding themselves as the market leader in providing excellence in customer service, coupled with competitive pricing and selection.
- Although, Zappos didn’t invent this brand positioning - Nordstrom’s “The Nordstrom Way” used similar branding/positioning in the 80′s and 90′s to build a multi-billion retail powerhouse. Zappos “borrowed” the core concept and made it their own by incorporated a web-centric direct ecommerce business model.
Social Media marketing moves at Warp Speed - those who want to excel at social media marketing must stay on top of and shape the conversations occurring in the multiple communities where there brand lives. In the end, social media is about building a conversation and engaging with those that amplify your brand’s positive or negative connotations. Recognizing your dealing with a forest fire in some cases that’s moving at a speed unmatched by any other marketing maxim know to woman or man!
Consumers define and share conversations- your on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, broadcasting high quality content and doing your best to shape consumer’s perception of your brand’s core strengths. Out of the blue a critical feature of your product begins to get promoted via Twitter and Facebook as not working as defined in your marketing. Bam - your brand’s critical challenge is to jump into the conversation and address these complaints and observations, or risk losing credibility, revenue and perceived value of your brand.
Grasping how to use content to drive your branding is critical. Effective social media marketing strategies live or die based on how your content is created, optimized, promoted, syndicated and/or shared by members of the social community. Great content must resonates with the community, whether its textual or video - if it doesn’t inform, stimulate or create brand enthusiasts then it’s not working.
Social networks provide you with powerful new tools for brand measurement. Using social media to quantify what’s being said about your brand enables you to skip the traditional product centric measurement and dive right into customer analysis and feedback. Successful brands are using social media to converse with this social consumer to understand what product or service features resonate with them and which don’t.
- Bigger brands like American Express or P&G are moving beyond consumer-direct communications via traditional social platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and building their own branded social communities. P&G’s “Being Girl” forum enables P&G to engage with, measure and quantify the forum’s evolving social conversations.
- American Express’s OPEN Forum is a superb example of a branded community (targeting small to medium sized businesses) that leverages branded content presented by “thought leaders” and bloggers that work directly for American Express that engages with and solicits information from the broader community.
Great social media marketing strategies are not a replacement for traditional marketing. Far from it! Marketing is always evolutionary and iterative - today’s social media marketing strategies are just the latest iteration of same! Stay tuned……….