“Yeah, I’ve launched an SEO campaign based on generating buzz through the blogosphere and increasing my link juice to ensure I get great SERP positioning…”
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Online marketing is a strange world to the outsider, filled with jargon, buzzwords and rapidly developing language. One phrase in particular which seems to confuse many of my clients is social media marketing. I often get asked: “Do you mean, erm, Facebook? when I go on about the benefits.
So – just what the hell is it?
Social media marketing
It is the use of social media websites, namely those which publish user-generated content and build online communities, to generate positive publicity and manage web-based corporate personas.
It is about conversing with consumers rather than pitching at them.
Well, where are customers conversing online? You may decide to go to them via existing online communities, or you may decide to entice them to you using specially-created forums, blogs and other content designed to drive debate and encourage comment and participation.
The web is filled with these communities. From big names like Beebo, Facebook, Twitter, Del.icio.us and Digg to more niche spaces, such as NetMums, Econsultancy, even Cat Chat – whatever is best suited to whatever it is you sell.
There are numerous options and before starting any social media marketing campaign, you’ll need to decide what fits with your corporate identity. You probably would not, for example, use Beebo if you make cleaning technology for hospitals – it is not appropriate for your business.
You also need to decide whether or not you intend to go to your customers via existing communities, encourage them to align themselves with your brand through setting up groups within these communities, or create your own content and spaces to entice them to come to you.
As with all social marketing tactics, a combination should be designed based on your company’s specific identity, needs and goals.
Don’t pitch. Don’t pitch, don’t pitch, don’t pitch, don’t pitch. People using social media are socialising. You wouldn’t leap on a group in the pub and try to market at them, because that would create anger and bad feeling about your brand. So don’t do it online.
You need to add value to their internet time; doing that will encourage them back to your site, back to your brand, back to your products or services. However, simply trying to sell at them will swiftly alienate your clients and you will end up actually damaging your reputation.
A serious point to remember is that social media marketing is developing and, by its very nature, cannot be easily defined. A successful campaign is a carefully tailored one, there is no simple solution which works for all brands.
Furthermore, having begun this kind of marketing effort, it is essential to remember it is a long-term strategy; it won’t create overnight returns and it will take time to build these successful conversations. Building online relationships can be enormously satisfying, both in terms of creating a strong business image and through driving sales.