Why You Should Get Started on Social Media

  |  September 14, 2009   |  Comments

In social media marketing, it's about power to the people. When done correctly, the brands and consumers both reap benefits.

It's a scary world out there for many brands not yet plying the waters of social sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or YouTube.

You know you need to be there. And you know many of your customers are already there. So how do you craft a social presence on the Web without coming across as shallow or trolling for marketing opportunities?

From a strict numbers standpoint, social media feels nebulous. Much of it exists in the realm of feelings, emotions, and sentiment. But social media also works like any other business initiative: start with goals, then act upon them.

And here's the best news: social media can be measured. It isn't just about hunches. Through a variety of reporting tools, you can calculate social ROI (define) to optimize your focus and messaging with your customers.

So that's the good news. But what about the challenging part -- how to get started?

It takes a little deep thinking. You should ponder some questions, as they will inform your overall strategy. For example:

  • What kind of brand are you?
  • Are you launching a new product or refreshing an old one?
  • Do people love you?
  • What are they already saying about you?
  • Do they hate you? Why?
  • Has the audience you want to reach even heard of you?
  • What is it you want to accomplish? Generate revenue? Create awareness? Influence sentiment? Sustain loyalty? Solicit feedback?

Each of these scenarios may require a unique creative approach. But the goals are the same: to get people talking about, feeling good about, and ultimately using your product or service in an overwhelmingly positive manner.

You may believe that traditional marketing methods are achieving all of the above, and maybe they are. But here's something that should get you moving. According to a July 2009 Forrester Research report, spending on integrated campaigns through social networks and agency fees for creating owned social media assets will top $3 billion by 2014.

The reason for this dramatic increase? To keep pace with consumers' increasingly social use of the Web.

In other words, the landscape is changing. Dramatically. It isn't about how businesses are reinventing advertising.

These days, the consumer is largely in control. They no longer look for social engagement with products they find interesting. They expect it.

For the rigid marketer, that's bad news. To not change is to risk being left behind.

The Forrester report points to a recent social campaign undertaken by Chevrolet to promote its alternative-fuel vehicles. The auto manufacturer partnered with MySpace to create a virtual tree widget that grew when "watered" online through visits and downloads. When Chevrolet achieved its download goal, it planted up to 225,000 real trees.

Not surprisingly, Chevy's fuel-conscious customers were more than pleased to participate in a campaign that created real social value.

And really, that's what social media is all about: participation. Getting customers to interact with brands, yes, but also getting brands to interact with consumers in new, unexpected, and exciting ways. It's about power to the people, and when done correctly, both sides reap benefits and the landscape always remains interesting.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Atchison

In 1998, Shane co-founded ZAAZ to advocate a different approach to Web services — one that respects and delivers on the power of the individual and the promise of Web technologies. As CEO, Shane leads the company's long-term strategic vision of working with leading financial service organizations, consumer brands, startups, non-profits, and community-based organizations, helping each realize the potential of the Internet and its meaningful impact on their business.

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