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Encouraging 7 Core Social Media Marketing Behaviors

  |  November 8, 2013   |  Comments

How do you encourage desired behavior in social media marketing, but, at the same time, not do it in a way that is overly aggressive?

One of the constant truths in marketing that is often forgotten is that marketing is about encouraging desired behavior. It's about getting people to actually do something that eventually leads to a sale. But so often the "marketing" part is left out of "social media marketing." We are so scared of offending our community with overly commercialized messaging that we forget that we are actually trying to sell something.

Ok, so let's be honest. Unlike real friends who genuinely like you as a person, we social media marketers have an ulterior motive. We are trying to get you to do something. We want you to feel or think in a certain way so eventually you take some kind of action that leads to revenue. (Even if your goal is building a brand.) So obviously the key is to encourage desired behavior but to also not do it in a way that is overly aggressive. We need to do it in a way that, in the end, gets people to both like you (and I mean like in the emotional sense) and as a result do some kind of business with you. Think of it as a business dinner. You're getting to know each other on a personal level but there is the knowledge that it's a professional relationship, too. So have a good time, but know the deal. Let's not act like it's something different -- just be honest.

So without telling you all to transform your social media marketing into a bullhorn that says, "BUY, BUY, BUY," all the time, I wanted to start you off with this one simple question:

"What do you want people to do?"

In the midst of all this posting and moderation have you stepped back and said, "Wait a second. What is the real behavior I am trying to encourage?" You would never go in to any other form of marketing (search, online media, direct mail, TV) without knowing that. Why is it that many organizations don't apply that same marketing standard and constant truth to social media marketing?

So it is important to step back and make a list of the things that you actually want people to do and then focus your content development and moderation efforts on making those things happen. Now does every post you create have to map to one of these goals? Of course not. However, a large portion should and the first step is to simply write down what those goals are and then to start creating content that maps to them. Kind of like a to-do list! Things are much more likely to happen if you write them down -- right?

Social Actions List

Ok, to start you off here are the 7 core behaviors (not the result or action, the actual behavior) I identified for social media marketing:

  • Join and Connect: Ok, this is really where most of our attention goes -- getting people to fan us, follow us and in general connect with us. But also don't forget about other forms connecting, like your opt-in email and snail mail! Trust me, people still use email and there is a big difference in response to dropping an email offer to 10,000 subscribers and posting an offer to 10,000 fans. So use social to build your email list -- give them a reason to opt-in!
  • View and Consume: Read, view, watch. This is typically the starting point. You simply want people to view and consume your content so make sure it is interesting and valuable! If you're posting about or filming something that you wouldn't bother looking at or reading, it is safe to say that you probably shouldn't post it.
  • Engage and React: Like and comment. Again, this is a big area of focus -- getting people to hit the like and comment on your Facebook posts, blog posts, videos and other places. Look at your social postings and ask, "Did someone even respond to this?" Is there something worth responding to? If the answer is no you have some headline-, title- or content-tweaking to do. Of course we always hope what people say is good. But there are forms of engagement I am putting into the next four bullets that are way more valuable!
  • Advocate and Share: Share, re-tweet, re-pin, forward. Ok, to me, sharing behaviors are the holy grail of social media marketing. Sharing makes your campaigns go viral! It is the essence of social media marketing and the mechanism that lets you leverage other people's social connections. It's what turns ten impressions into 10,000,000 impressions. In my mind the share is as valuable (and in many cases more valuable) then the Like (or fan)! In social media marketing the share IS THE ACTION!
  • Create and Contribute: Crowdsourcing and communal content. This is an often overlooked but powerful social driver. Letting the lovers of your brand contribute to your content and in some cases giving individuals their 15 minutes of fame can really help your social program pop. It can also yield amazing content that goes viral from your virtual stage and jacks your SEO! Want to see a great example? Check out the Harley-Davidson social photo mosaic and click on the image. Then enter "john1" in the locator box. (You will understand when you are there.)
  • Acquire and Keep: Download, print, display. Now this is a hugely overlooked biggie. Don't forget that many things in social and digital are fleeting. People rarely save social content. But what if you could get them to keep something of yours? What if you could give people things they wanted or needed? What if they took those items and downloaded them, shared them, printed them, took them to meetings or hung them on the wall? Give people free guides, checklists, posters, infographics and more. Flu season is upon us. How about germ-spreading prevention posters for schools and workplaces put out by any number of disinfectant, hand soap/sanitizer or cold/flu medicine companies?
  • Convert Contact and Buy: Fill in a form, chat, call, visit retail, buy. Ok, so this goes without saying, right? In the end we are trying to generate leads or drive sales. Look at your social activities. Does at least some portion of them encourage actions that lead to a sale without too many digital or mental hops? If you're trying to generate leads, does any of your content give people a reason to talk to your sales team? Do any of your postings make a killer offer? Again, you don't need to say, "BUY, BUY, BUY," all the time, but asking for the sale once in a while is ok. I mean, most people understand that they are socially connected to a business and that you want them to be your customer -- they should not be put-off or offended.

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Harry Gold

As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.

Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.

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