While I’ve been a participant in social media for a long time including a personal blog over three years old, I only started thinking about it as a marketing tool when I did a product launch a few years ago- and found that reaching out to relevant blogs was the most effective activity I pursued, more effective than any of the traditional PR and advertising we did at the same time. It didn’t hurt that it was a software as a service product right at the onset of web 2.0.
Fast forward a few years and social media is my primary marketing tool but in ways that have evolved considerably. When I started working with Techrigy three months ago I was still in SEM/SEO mode. That went away fast though we do use these techniques quite effectively (please don’t send me SEO analyses of our sites- we’re quite aware of where they stand). I simply dove in to start learning about the wonderful world of social media monitoring and how people were trying to use it. I intentionally use the word ‘trying’ because it rapidly became apparent that we’re all in a continuous learning curve (and will be forever I think).
Those who dropped pre-conceptions the earliest have, IMHO, become the default thought leaders. I’ve gotten so I laugh when I read about social media ‘campaigns’, products to automate pushing messages out to social media and other broadcast mentality approaches to spreading the word or effecting change in social media. This is not the model, again IMHO!
The reason we constantly see and talk to people trying to retain this model is that the available alternatives are freaking them out:
” I’m supposed to read blogs and twitter all day and add-in stuff?”
“I don’t don’t have the time or the bandwidth for that!”
“What good is this stuff? What’s the ROI?”
With broadcast you reach millions of people, 99.999% of whom frankly don’t give a sh*t. You spend money to reach that fragment who do. With search you focus more but you’re still seeking true intent through relevant placement. A lot better.
In social media, if you do your job and participate and carefully build a reputation you become a member of the inner circle. This membership is precarious and precious but incredibly egalalitarian. An ambitious or enthusiastic intern or career-changer can join if they prove themselves and affect the positioning of their product or service in game-changing ways- because that inner circle is incredibly influential.
Why are they so powerful? Because of the network effect. It used to be said that an angry consumer would tell ten others about their negative experience while a happy one would only tell three. With social media both can reach hundreds or thousands who in turn can influence untold thousands more. So, IMHO (again), you cannot afford to ignore or minimalize social media as a marketing tool. It’s word of mouth on steroids.
That my lesson from three months of working to build awareness of a brand and product in social media. The potential is explosively more powerful than what came before.
And equally risk-laden for those venture away from 100% honesty and transparency. Why? Because it is self-regulated by those who you are marketing to. That’s another game-changing element in this new world.