Social Media Marketing is taking over the world right? You can’t read a blog without somebody trying to tell you that you must be using SMM to promote your brand/product and communicate with your current and potential customer base. But what is the value of SMM and does it make business sense for your company?
What does it take?
The expense in terms of capital is low which is obviously attractive however it has to be remembered that it is hugely important that you have people moderating your profiles, responding to any queries and updating content. This can be a very time consuming process and draws on resources that may be better utilised elsewhere.
Outside of actual time and spend, a major cost factor of SMM is reputation. Opening up your brand to the masses and allowing them to comment creates the opportunity for bad mouthing and negative content to be viewable by the masses. Yes you can respond directly to the negativity and even delete it but it is important to remember that there is no brand/product/service out there that is perfect! Problems occur when the negativity outweighs the positivity and at that point it is wise to consider the sense in continuing to have SM presence.
What are the main advantages?
Well, you have an instant channel to your audience (once there are people hooked up that is) within which you can promote sales messages, answer any queries, gather opinion via polls and showcase creative all from within the one portal. As you know there are so many options out there (I am not going to list them!) in terms of networks and it is important to streamline the use of these. This will save you time in terms of updating and communicating as well as minimising fronts for potential negativity. Choose networks that offer you the best medium. Facebook allows you to upload creative amongst many other features. Twitter allows you to communicate in short sharp bursts (MS Windows example – http://twitter.com/MSWindows) but at the moment is limited to this. Work out what you want to achieve from the activity and then identify the best tools to use (remember SMM doesn’t stop at networks).
You can use SMM to create a buzz around your product, just like Skittles did when they made their homepage a Twitter search page set to display any tweets that mentioned their brand to the public (see image below). This was a bold move and one that got the online community blogging. Yes there were negative tweets that where then displayed on the Skittles homepage (e.g. ‘If this is how the rainbow tastes, I think I will pass’) but the coverage and press far outweighed any negativity.
Will It Work For My Business?
Lets face it, if your company sells rubber door sealants then you are highly unlikely to attract a large social media following and with this in mind it may be wise not to waste any resource. You may want to look at innovative ways of using SMM to engage a new audience. If you are a popular brand with a strong presence and image then people will want to engage with you and build up a relationship. Sounds easy? Well maybe not but that is half of the fun!
Money Money Money
Remember that SMM is not a direct source of revenue. Your website is still your key tool online. Any SM activity should be geared to ultimately getting people on to your site and at that point carrying out an action such as registering, making a query or even better a purchase. Ensure that your site has clear pointers to your SM outlets so that people who visit your site can quickly become part of your online community and tell their friends.
Use SMM as you see fit but remember that it is supplementary to your main online business.
There is a lot of learning to be done in terms of its best uses so try out new ideas and gauge their success. Anything you do can in most cases be deleted and consigned to the chopping room floor.
Remember that you have to accept a reasonable level of negativity, people are naturally suspicious of anything that seems too good to be true.
Weigh up the best options in terms of outlets for your company, start small and build it up.
Perfect Storm Digital can help you to integrate SMM into your online strategy. We use various methods and outlets to ensure our clients get the best from Social Media. We focus not just on networks but other tools such as forums which are an excellent tool in terms of driving traffic to your site and coverting to sales. Our clients have seen great results from forum work and now have revenue streams that have never before existed.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like more information – firstname.lastname@example.org