|Social Media in Perspective
The answer is... it depends. It depends on what your audience is doing. Are they engaged online? Are they active in social networking sites? Do they frequent blogs, discussion groups or online communities? Do they tweet? Just like any other marketing activity the first step is to really know your target audience and learn what they are doing and then reach them in the medium they most value and trust. Otherwise, if you decide to use a Twitter campaign and come up with a brilliant promotion that is designed to be delivered by tweeting... and your key targets are not the Twitter types, then you'll have to sell Twitter first before your promotion has a chance of working.
Marketing Fundamentals Matter
My point... none of the fundamental marketing premises you have deployed your entire career have changed. Just because we have a new method of engagement called social media, doesn't mean your approach is flawed.
Define your targets, build a demographic and psychographic profile and then research where they go for information and how they are influenced. You may very well learn that your prospects value social interactions and are huge Facebook fans. You may learn that they frequent certain blogs and then you need to devise a plan on how to be a part of the online world they trust. It may mean, you find a way to participate on the blogs or maybe even create your own blog, designed to appeal to what your audience is seeking.
3 Fundamentals for Social Media
There's no question that the social media movement opens doors into a world of opportunities through direct communications with your key audiences. As you enter this new world, keep in mind a few key ground rules:
1. Authenticity wins over sizzle: Too much blatant promotion can backfire in the social media forum. Think in terms of sharing information and becoming a trusted resource.
2. Control has shifted from the company to the customer: No longer can messaging be controlled by the marketer. You must empower your customers with good brand experiences and impart an understanding and value for your brand. Remember customers out number you!
3. Conversation marketing rules: We are now in a time when dialog and community have a tremendous impact and sheer marketing dollars can not out play the voice of the community. Become a contributor to the conversation and by all means... listen.
Trust Your Instincts and Use Marketing Basics to Drive Social Media
Once you've got the marketing basics at hand, then the social media deployment becomes a natural part of your strategy. I often see well- intentioned marketing folks, trying to do the right thing by wholeheartedly embracing social media and struggling with the outcome because it is a flawed tactic that doesn't track to their audience.
Just remember that your instincts will lead you to success. No one knows better than you the nature of your target audience. And if that means social media plays a role, then be sure to try it yourself. Post comments on blogs, subscribe to RSS, develop a profile on LinkedIn or Facebook , and even try tweeting on Twitter. You just might find a whole new dimension to your marketing programs!