The Maturation of Social Media Marketing

Tim Newhard, Business Development Manager

Wow! Social Media sure is popular. And its use as a marketing vehicle has greatly accelerated as social media networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have been inundated with Babyboomers. In fact, the research organization Forester predicts that spending on social media marketing will soon outpace spending for email marketing (which is in some circles a form of social media marketing).

So what does it all mean?

In short, since social media marketing has come about so quickly – a lot of people probably don’t know how to use it. As a result, there are lots of businesses wasting time and money on a medium that is rich with data and buzz, but no clear use for the average business.

The average dialogue regarding social media probably goes like this: Gosh, everyone I know uses social media, in fact, I read in an article that the average Facebook user spends ONE HOUR a day on Facebook (true fact). I should open up a Facebook account. End Quote.

This idea has good intentions, but it lacks direction, goals, and any resemblance to a strategy.

Like any new thing, people are bound to grope around for answers while other people will claim to have all the answers in an effort to lead the groping masses to higher profitability. In an effort to help the masses, while not proclaiming to have all the answers, here are some social media tips from a real marketing strategy consulting and design firm:

1. Use social media as part of a larger strategy

This makes sense right? Ask yourself this: Will social media marketing solve all my marketing problems? If you answered yes, your marketing is not very sophisticated. If you answered no, which I hope most of you did, you should ask yourself another question: If social media marketing will not solve all

Twitter is a micro-blogging medium

my marketing problems – why is it not incorporated into a larger strategy that does? Marketing strategy involves the establishment of marketing goals and the use of marketing tactics (like social media marketing, ads, CPC, etc) as means to your goals.

2. Think of social media as a virtual extension of talking to friends face-to-face

Remember when you would talk to your neighbors face-to-face? Perhaps you have friends that you talk to in person. When you talk to these people do you talk with simply a link, video, or picture? No. Do you ever ask them to go somewhere without telling them where and why you want them to go there? No. Do you spam your friends? No. When you share videos, links, photos, or update your status (or Tweet) make sure you would feel comfortable saying it to one of or a group of your friends.

3. Find out which social media are relevant to your business

While Facebook is the most popular social networking site, it is not really for doing business networking or selling (unless you sell apps or run an ad). People use Facebook to waste time by playing Farmville, sharing pictures and videos, and reading their friends statuses.

Facebook is the world's most popular networking site

Linkedin, on the other hand, is set up for business networking and perhaps some light selling (you can get kicked out of groups or shunned for being too spammy).

There are hundreds of social media out there, so do not assume that they are all the same; choose one that fits what you are doing.

4. Know the dynamics of end user behavior

People behave differently on Facebook than they do on Twitter. People using Facebook tend to stay on Facebook and rarely follow links out of Facebook. It is therefore imperative that people experience as much of your brand as possible on Facebook. People that use Twitter will follow links to your site, a webpage on your site, your blog, videos, photos, or your discount page.

5. Correlate online data with real-world results

Data without statistics are useless. Therefore, in order to really understand if your marketing is working, you need stats. This is not good news if you, like most people think that statistics are dreadful. However, stats in the hands of the right person can be a powerful ally.

Start by determining what your organization’s strategic goals are. Then determine which marketing metrics might contribute to the success of that

LinkedIn is a business-specific social networking site

metric. Then see what metrics contribute to those metrics.

An example of this might help. We have a client that owns and operates golf courses. An important strategic goals for them is golf related revenue. This metric is related to the number of online tee times booked, which is related to the amount of people that look at the Online TeeTimes page of their website, which is related to how many people visit their site. Using statistical analysis we can correlate all of these various metric to the strategic goal.

Social media marketing is a great new medium; however, it is not the ultimate medium that will solve all your problems. It is another tool in the marketer’s toolbox and, like a chainsaw, it should be used properly.

I hope that by following the listed suggestions you might be able to help your social media marketing efforts grow and become mature and not wile away the youthful honeymoon it is currently enjoying.

Happy Marketing!