3 years back, when I first proposed Social Media Marketing to our PR and Online Reputation Management clients, there was a sense of dis-belief among the marketing mavens that traditional media could be dis-intermediated in the next few years. Today, with the phenomenon of Social Media and Social Networking well entrenched in the consumer user set, Marketers of all hues are scrambling to figure out the ONE way to reach Marketing Heaven.
While, a lot of B2C marketers are pouring in money into Facebook, with the hope and expectation of driving LIKES- visibility and awareness among its 500 million userbase, others are using a combination of Twitter via promoted tweets and twitter client ads to get the targetted message to reach the relevant audience. Not to mention, the plethora of blogs, micro-sites, and add this buttons and toolbars each of which promise to be more ‘sticky’ and ‘viral’ than the next one. And I haven’t even mentioned Youtube, and Vimeo and the like, which are taking the world of the networked ‘social consumer’ by the storm.
It might NOT work! why? because the ‘social consumer’ is not interested in interruptions, not even if it is targetted and geo-specific. Social Media is NOT TV, people won’t switch channels because your ads disturb them, they will tweet their disgust in REAL TIME. Social Media is NOT print, if you haven’t got interactions via RT’s and @mentions, @replies, and Likes, then your page views are probably soaring because of ‘smart bots’.
Social Media Marketing is about Co-Creation!
That’s two C’s, right? wrong! Co-Creation is realising that you are NOT going into the market, and trying to compete in the consumer’s mindspace, with a product or services that you can pre-package, brand and then drive to Brand Preference and Sales. Co- Creation is about allowing the Brand to be created by the consumer, by encouraging her to experience it, talk about it and then use her help and insights in making it an integral part of her mindspace. Think IKEA! Apple has been doing it for years! Every Apple product launch is surrounded by an aura of mystery, an expectation that folks there have been listening, and they are willing to allow the users to tell them what they like, and what sucks, and keep modifying it and in the process create iconic products, which sell thanks to stronger word of mouth than product features. Same story with Bose, and with a slew of brands which realised that a consumer’s preference and fanatical word of mouth is much, much stronger than any Facebook game, or app that you can design. What are the brands that come to your mind?
Co-Creation is about Content
That’s right! whether it’s a youtube video, a myspace song, a slideshare ppt, or a bit.ly link embedded in a tweet, or a posterous micro-blog embedded in your status update, its about content. What about your product or service can you see being tweeted and retweeted across twitterverse? When you are thinking about your target market, are you thinking of the stories your target users may tell each other? If you think, you are the creator and/ or curator of your social media marketing message, you got another think coming! Social Media Marketing is about Content!
Co-Creation is about Conversations
Its the hashtags, the summaries which are written and re-written with each tweet, the tags on Facebook Page posts, and the consequent social media conversations that create the bedrock of social media marketing. No, I don’t think a lot of people will be conversing about hedging Greek Drachmas with Chinese Yuan on Facebook, but that’s not the point! The point is that your content should attract your target users ( your buyers to interact with it!) and shape the brand experience with their interactions. And its NOT just getting one million folks thru the door like Starbuck’s did , and Groupon’s tie in with non-profits, it goes much, much further, think open source, visit a RUBY forum, where qualified engineers, and school kids are contributing to making a better code for computing- for FREE! Social Media marketing is about Conversations!
Co- Creation is about Community
Its not just the millions of likes you got on your Facebook Page, but the way you are interacting with them, nurturing them and making their experience of your brand that much more meaningful.
Here’s a look at BlackBerry’s FaceBook page, do note they have a community manager (Becky Young is a community manager for BlackBerry in North America. She follows your BlackBerry conversations, listens to feedback, and helps out whenever she can).on the page, who is actively engaging with the community to learn, shape and lead the conversation with its close to 3 million fans.
Now have a look at the geo-specific boxes on Nokia’s Facebook page, with currently 1.7 million likes, who do you think is gaining from social media marketing. The Next Step is of course, Niche Networks, around food, fashion, soccer, nostalgia, the possibilities are endless, and yes! I am a BIG believer in building brands via a loyal band of brand adopters, who help the brand cross the chasm into mass markets successfully, as ardent Brand Buddies and co-creators of Brand Experience.
How are you building your social media marketing strategies? what’s your experience in results generated from Social Media? would be delighted to hear about it.