Social media is made up of online communities where people collaborate with each other, share content and in general they are a collective influence or a collective wisdom. Let’s examine the lifecycle of interaction in social media from a marketer’s perspective. In general it is comprised of these four components:
When embarking on a social media marketing strategy the first place to start is to identify the communities that are meaningful to your business (fish where the fish are). Once you find them, you must engage them. You visit social media sites and you find people with common interests and you connect with them. The social media sites you use may vary according to your industry and geographic location.
Once you engage people, then you must give to them. This is a concept that I have found many marketers don’t get. The reason is that marketing 1.0 is about pushing your message out and asking for something in the form of a lead or some other conversion we can measure. In social media marketing we must first give to get. When you give of yourself you are getting engaged in your community…Remember, social media marketing is a natural extension of our desire as humans to be social creatures. You offer your opinions and your thoughts wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself. But, you always do it in a giving way. Do not – I repeat – do not ask for something in return. You would not do that at a cocktail party, so don’t dig yourself a hole and do that in a social media situation. People online can be very unforgiving.
In summary, just have a giving attitude in social media and you’ll find many friends and you’ll build a good reputation for yourself and your company if your online identity is tied to your company.
Engaging and listening are very closely tied to each other but there is a distinction. I argue that one of the things you can measure most in social media is that which you learn when you listen online. Listening can be incredibly informative. Listening to your community is part of the wisdom of the community. Often there are thought leaders in your community who have good insights to offer. Your online friends will send you links to articles, blog posts, videos, photos and generally content which can give you valuable insights which you may not have otherwise found. Listening also lets you tap into market intelligence. Listening can also result in some of the most measurable assets in social media marketing.
When we engage our community we give of our insights, we listen to their insights, ideas and opinions. When we engage with our community we interact with them. In your career you’ve earned the right to (finish this sentence). Earning the right to do something in any business circumstance means you have the authority, credibility or know-how. When you interact with your audience you should have some credibility. You may be building your credibility with your community. Or, you may have it from day one based on your recognized accomplishments in your industry. Interacting with your community can take several forms.
First I’ll touch on personal interaction. We are not robots. We are people with interests and personalities. In social media it is very common for people to let their hair down and share things about themselves or their personality. I personally enjoy seeing comments from people I follow online about the photos they’ve taken, their daughter’s wedding, or whatever personal tidbit it may be, including their beautifully curated wedding photo books. If you’re wondering what this has to do with marketing – everything! Opening discussions in business settings often are about something other than business. Social media affords us the opportunity to be ourselves and gain insights into people in our communities. Don’t be all work and no play or you’ll be perceived as boring and only interested in advancing your business cause.
Marketing interaction in social media can be very effective but it must be approached carefully. Posting links to blog posts or articles and asking for reaction is an effective way to interact. Even if people don’t respond, you’re still interacting with your community by sharing content. Responding to other people’s comments or content they share is another effective way to interact.
Measuring results is one of my favorite topics in marketing. The reality is that in recent years, measuring results has become increasingly sophisticated at a quantitative level. And, there is also an element of qualitative measurement that is somewhat more difficult to measure, though very possible. As David Meerman Scott tells us in his book The New Rules of Marketing & PR, not everything is measurable in social media marketing. But measuring results can be achieved in a combination of qualitative and quantitative ways.
This topic alone warrants its own blog post. For now, I’ll list some of the tools you can use to measure results:
Google Webmaster Tools
Measure results in social media is a topic that warrants more coverage, so I’ll write more on these tools in another blog post.
This blog post is an edited excerpt of my (yet to be named) book on social media marketing to be published in the first quarter of 2009.
If you have any comments on these guidelines, please share them.