If social media is about a new way to communicate and share online than one aspect of social media marketing is about finding the most effective methods for positioning their product or brand in this communication stream.
There’s nothing wrong with having a passion for social media, but marketers immersed in these strategies need to keep their eye on the prize, for there are many compelling and tempting reasons to lose focus.
Twitter Gone Wrong
Consider this (edited) example from a recent conversation observed on Twitter from a marketing colleague of mine:
The Requester: (800+ followers)
“What do people use to [INSERT PROBLEM HERE]?”
The Marketing Colleague’s response:
“I’ve used [SUGGESTS A COMPETITOR HERE]…”
Wait a minute. What was that last update? Did you just reference a competing product in this conversation?
The reality is that the while the marketer’s product would indeed solve the requester immediate problem, it may not be the perfect solution in the long run. But isn’t it worth the opportunity to investigate this further and obtain feedback? Being able to generate an opinion from the audience may be just as valuable.
Another aspect of social media marketing (continuing the thought process at the beginning of this post) is in understanding how your product or brand provides value to the communities for which you desire to be a part of.
I included the requesters follower numbers to illustrate the fact that the requester has a network. While it may not be the largest Twitter network out there, it’s certainly not the smallest. Perhaps more importantly, this is the type of person who helps spread the message for a product or service they feel confident about.
Social Media Moves Fast
There are conversations, submissions and links to information being updated every second you refresh your browser. Marketers need to realize this and learn to identify and react quickly because the right opportunities are gone within minutes.
Twitter is just one example of a social media tool that allows anyone (marketers included) to share and distribute information. Millions of people update their Twitter account every day and you only need to refresh the Twitter public timeline to see how fast these conversations are happening.
Another Twitter Example:
Here’s another edited example of a Twitter conversation in which the marketer took advantage of the opportunity provided.
The Requester: (600+ followers)
“[INSERT SITUATION HERE]?”
“@requestor – check this out – [INSERT COMPANY REFERENCE POINT HERE] it’s specific to …”
“thanks! that’s really helpful”
In this case, being connected via a social media network may lead to a productive result. Even if there is little immediate impact, the opportunity to get a client’s website in front of an influential social media contributor has a potential for long-term value. At the least, an unobtrusive way to bring the a marketer’s website into the conversation was realized and acted upon.
How Are You Measuring Your Social Media Productivity?
At the individual level, the value social media contribution is difficult to measure. How can you place a numeric or financial value to the single vote cast, the update written or “friend” added? It’s in the growth of community development that real productivity can begin to be measured and results can be generated. But this takes time, focus and a commitment that often goes unheralded and rarely observed by your peers.
If your company allows you to use social media tools at work, you had better be prepared to translate the hours browsing Digg or Facebook or your RSS subscriptions into meaningful Office documents and presentations showing the results of your efforts.
The Other Side of The Equation
One final, quick point about the investment in social media as a marketer’s tool for communication. In my last post, I wrote about how social media can be a public conversation. This can be illustrated by how it allowed me to observe the Twitter conversations I am writing about above.
What does it say to the knowledgeable observer when a marketer chooses to illustrate the competitor’s product in favor of their own? It’s true that they could have forgotten or gotten carried away in the existing conversation. Losing focus is the point of this post.
But there are other reasons why you would be hesitant to market your company’s product or service into the conversation. Perhaps it’s what they didn’t say that really should be considered.
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