The ABC guide to social media marketing

Some years I ago I was working for a workflow software start-up as their part-time head of marketing, and the CEO called me into his office and said, ‘we need a social media strategy, what would you advise?’ My response was simple, ‘what are your key business objectives this quarter?’ His response, ‘we need more partners.’ After that, I looked at what the company was doing on LinkedIn and Twitter, and by the end of the afternoon, we had three partner requests to evaluate.

Yes, social media is dead easy, isn’t it? All you need to do is a bit of LinkedIn, a few tweets, a cool post on Facebook some Instagram shots, record a neat video on your phone for Vine and some postings on Google+, job done. How may connections have you got? I have more retweets than you! Bet you I have many more devotees in my Google+ circles than you do! Is this sounding like kids in the playground? Now given that we supposed to be smart marketing folk, there must be more to it than this.

The web is crammed full of hints and tips on effective social media marketing, and the good news is this article will not give you a list of do’s and dont’s but rather ask you to consider the following: content, context and network

Content

Yes, yes content is king, but the difficulty is in a social world you have to provide information that is relevant, interesting, useful and compelling. Not easy at all when you want to stand out and have a business to run. You have to consider what is it you want to say, will people out there be interested and are others saying it already? You also have to factor in the cost and the time to produce such content and more importantly how can it be re-used? A video of any decent quality will take you a while to produce so if you can use it on your site, in customer communications and as a sales tool the investment makes a lot of sense. Labouring over a blog that has to be posted but never read may not be the best use of your time either as ultimately the key is context.

Context

This in my view is the key to social media marketing, consider who are you talking to and in what context do they want the info. You don’t sell on a LinkedIn Group you share, you don’t do speeds and feeds on Facebook you do personal feelings, on Twitter point me to the news if that is why I follow you. We as marketers have to constantly ask who are we talking to and what sort of conversation do we want to have? Oh yes in case you missed it a conversation is a TWO-way process, and as the old saying goes, you have two ears and one mouth so you should do more listening than talking. In the social world, we have two eyes and at least four fingers that type so pay attention and take care to read plenty and be prepared to respond honestly and openly!

Network

When you boil it all down the real issue with anything social media related is that it is all about your network be it customer, suppliers, competition, influencers, personal contacts. Social media is merely an electronic representation of all of these. With the workflow software start-up, the social media strategy was a set of LinkedIn message to personal contacts that could be asked for help in building the business. That’s not social media marketing its effective use of a network. As a marketer, we must never undervalue of the network.

Which finally brings us to the #1 i.e. you, you have to constantly think about how you can harness the tools and electronic channels to help achieve the marketing objectives you have set for the business.