Timeless Tips for Smart Social Media Marketing

In June 2011, David Ogilvy’s 100th birthday was celebrated across the world from Canberra to Cannes. And I am sure everywhere else where there are brands. And consumers. And marketers. And advertising and communication folks.

Being an agency executive myself, the occasion got me thinking about the lessons in advertising craft and inspiration we all have drawn from the classic works and times of David Ogilvy. And about how these lessons were applicable to today’s new media communication to social media marketing.

Interestingly, I could draw several parallels:

1. Be passionate and ‘ungovernably curious’.

This pertains to your client’s product, your audience, their lives and aspirations, and about what’s happening around you.

That’s a smarter starting point than ‘let’s create a fan page’ and one that can lead to success that endures long after the last banner or contest has been delivered.

In an increasingly ‘social’ environment, what keeps people engaged, and brings them back time and again involves appealing to their sensibilities. Being relevant. Being interesting. And staying that way. It works in our everyday social interactions and does so even in brand-consumer social interactions.

2. Just as one cannot bore consumers into buying a product, one cannot bribe them into buying and recommending a product either (through contests, incentives and the like).

Create real reasons for consumers to like your product, and they will themselves give wings to their liking and spread the word further. Simply sticking the promise of a grand prize behind a Like button is a very myopic and short-term view to take.

To create sticky consumers beyond the life of a campaign, it’s important to work on providing real reasons for them to buy a product. Starting out by being authentic and honest helps.

3. Look into the minutest details of how you say things.

Just because social communication is not going into a brochure that’s going to be printed, it does not mean one can be careless with the fundamentals of communication – be it grammar or the tonality of how things are said (as not all brands are intrinsically humourous, neither should their communication try and be so.)

Retain the core personality of the brand in all communication. Trying to be something that isn’t true to the brand is more likely to alienate consumers than draw them closer to the brand.

4. In social media communication, think direct marketing.

Speak as if you are addressing an audience of one. Make it seem personal rather than a stream of broadcast messages. Find ways of making the audience feel special. One person at a time.

Respond to your audience in a manner that makes them feel like you care and that they are not just another number on a database or one of a million fans. Instead, make them feel like one IN a million.

5. Stay ethical. Don’t undercut.

This is probably easier said than done in this day and age of quarterly results and P&L pressures, but really, if one looks at businesses with longevity, it’s the ones that have stayed true to good business practices. Even if it’s at the cost of winning a business today, and one loses it to a competitor whose main weapon is price.

Marketing and advertising (and social media marketing) is an increasingly complex proposition and takes smart minds that don’t necessarily come cheap.

Remember, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. The corollary to this is if you are paid peanuts, you probably can only get monkeys to do the work! Something that clients ought to think about too. While this point isn’t about the craft of social marketing, it’s important, as after all, the business of the brands will only thrive if the business of the communications partners (social media or otherwise) thrives too.

In conclusion, it’s interesting to note that the fundamentals of sound social media are in fact grounded in the classic truisms of advertising and marketing and not based on some here today-gone tomorrow technology or social media honey pot that may draw droves, but will rarely survive the lifetime of consumers and their ever changing needs.

Hopefully, we as marketers and agency folks will create some social media marketing practices that will stand the test of time and stay relevant to the art and craft of communications. A hundred years from today.

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