The following article was published in our April e-Newsletter (the newsletter is not currently open to subscribers, but we will be changing that shortly):
PART I: DEFINING SOCIAL MEDIA
People all over the Internet are attempting to define what Social Media Marketing is, how it is used, and what the benefits are.
The social media landscape, unorganized
Organized, as The Conversation Prism,
by Brian Solis & Jesse Thomas
Someone recently said to Derek that Social Media Marketing is “The New Branding”.
As I started writing this article, I tried to decide if I liked the concept of “The New Branding”.
While Social Media is definitely gaining prominence as a branding vehicle, I don’t think that gives the medium its full due – Social Media Marketing is much more than that.
I started thinking about all of the various things that social media marketing can accomplish, and tried to come up with an illustrative way of defining it. Should it be rendered as a super robot with cool tools at its disposal? The dream athlete, with skills taken from a variety of stars? A toolbox? A recipe?
OK, I like cooking, but did not want to use anything too generic. Then it dawned on me – Stone Soup!
Social Media Marketing is similar to the story of Stone Soup, where a wanderer came into a town and convinced the citizens of the community that if they all threw in one ingredient into the “stone soup”, that they would be assured of having some of the resulting soup.
In this case, Social Media Marketing is very much like a collection of Marketing ingredients that can all be contributed to something that produces a result. In other words, Social Media Soup contains ingredients and flavors such as Branding, Market Research, Direct Marketing, Customer Service, Promotional Marketing, PR, SEO, and other ingredients.
PART II: THE VALUE OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Partly because social media marketing is a very rich recipe of marketing (and customer service) activities & opportunities, the social media landscape can be very confusing to the un-initiated.
And the big question surrounding this medium – “is it even worth it?”
Of course I think it’s worth it. I live and breathe social media every day.
One giant problem that I encounter when I am talking to a prospect or client about the social media marketing opportunity is answering the question of ROI. As in:
“What can we expect in terms of return?”
In some sense, getting the question itself is a great sign – a sign that people finally understand that there is a return that can be measured in the search engine marketing work that we do.
Do marketers expect an answer to the ROI question when considering advertising on TV, Radio, Print, Outdoor, & PR? All of those media are about reach,impression, & brand. ROI is secondary, and takes a long time to measure (with the exception of announcing a retail SALE!!!!!).
But, because marketers are used to the highly-measurable arena of online marketing – e-mail, pay per click advertising, and search engine optimization – they also expect an answer to “what will I get for my money in Social Media?”
With any of the online media referenced above, it is next to impossible to predict results & ROI. It is just that much easier to measure the after effects than it is with mainstream (“old”?) media.
So, here is what you definitely get from Social Media Marketing (when done well):
- Brand awareness
- Links to your Website (think SEO)
- Visits to your Website
All of these can be measured & tied to ROI metrics.
You also receive these benefits (which also can be measured in their own way):
- Competitive intelligence
- Dialogue with consumers/customers
- Market feedback
- Share of Voice (if your competitors are there, you need to be; if they are not – then the audience is yours)
All of the above bring the following opportunities:
- Higher keyword rankings in search engines
- More search engine traffic
- Product/service improvement (if you actually listen and get others in your company to react)
- Viral messaging
- Word of mouth referrals
Not to mention expense reduction to fund the re-allocation to Social Media (take your pick):
- Online banner
- PR (traditional)
|If you are having conversations with people, making connections, providing information, getting people excited enough to link to your site, generating word of mouth buzz, and bringing people to your Website from social media sites, links & search engines, and you are still not selling more – is there another problem that you could tackle?
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