The Four Pillars of Social Media Marketing: Social Media good for Business?
It’s no secret that the marketing sector is rapidly evolving. Many of us can find examples in our own lives to this effect. The way we read the news, the way we communicate with friends, or the way in which we organise business are all adapting. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, the list is endless. Social networking tools come and go, their features change day to day, but the fundamentals of social information sharing and distribution seem set to stay. The principles of communication within media organisations are changing; interaction with audiences is vital in today’s marketing landscape. Business’s can no longer rely on one way liner distribution models to deliver content to their audiences, online interaction is increasingly nodal and this must be reflected in new marketing strategies. So how can businesses equip themselves for this transcendence?
Content is King
Communicating with audiences is one thing, but without strong content to support business message, products or services, communication could not only be ineffective but ultimately damaging to business reputation and market credibility. Before considering the distribution of content it should be carefully vetted and optimised. Take blogging as an example, optimisation of copywriting in the form of keyword inclusion can increase the visibility of products and services to consumers. To this avail creating content for the web is an art in itself and a constant search engine optimisation (SEO) battle. As well as the obvious SEO advantages of well written content, also consider what it exemplifies to audiences. Content for contents sake is never a good thing, it will bore and frustrate your audience and in the long run compromise business image. Content should provide a clear message about a product or service, or perhaps be used to lay the foundations for interaction between audiences.
So the content is ready to go! Now you need to deliver it to your audience. The list of social networking platforms for web based content distribution is endless. So how can businesses deduce which social platforms are most valuable to them? Considering the product or service to be communicated is the first step; next is to consider which platforms your consumers currently occupy, or are most likely to make use of if they don’t currently. Incentivising the use of such platforms can be a good way to encourage audiences to make use of platforms such as Facebook if they don’t currently. If users are given little reason to populate such social networks, they are unlikely to use them if they don’t currently. However, as the use of social information systems becomes increasingly common place, it is likely that audiences may already reside on such systems, Facebook and Twitter’s increasing user numbers are supportive in this context. The challenge then for business is learning how to tap into these existing user bases. Content distribution can be very time consuming to businesses if they plan to target numerous social platforms, maximising the ease of which distribution takes place is thus key to online marketing success. Thankfully the use of API’s on popular social platforms is enhancing the interoperability of such systems. Automation of content distribution is now very realisable. If the automation of distribution is to be utilised however, content quality becomes even more consequential and so too does the need to clearly map and identify where content is coming from and where it is going to. While the viral nature of social media can be effective in easing distribution workload for businesses, this scenario can create new problems; tracking where your information ends up and maintaining full control over information becomes increasingly difficult. Businesses must be aware of the threats this poses to their long lasting corporate image. Content is very difficult to erase online and is inherently mutable. In short, what businesses put out, may not be what comes back in.
Marketing principles have always evolved around communicating clear messages to audiences; social media adds something to this scenario by allowing audiences to communicate their message back to businesses and brands. Grasping the value of interaction is essential; while audiences have always been able to communicate back to businesses in a traditional sense; social media makes interaction far more accessible to audiences. So why should businesses communicate with their audiences? There are numerous reasons why, some more obvious than others. Social consumer relations management (CRM) can provide businesses with an approachable appearance. This not only encourages interaction, which can be monitored, but also engenders trust and confidence in brands. Social networking platforms also facilitate voyeuristic behaviour, allowing businesses to sit back and monitor the conversations about their products or services. This “listening” can also reveal gaps in the market and often drives further product innovation. Take Google as an example; Google often release close to finished products, but continue to pay close attention to users wants and needs before implementing further changes.
Analytics and Return on Investment (ROI)
So good content is in place, a cohesive distributions network has laid the framework for contextualised conversation with audiences, so what next? Conversations are great, but in a physical marketing context, it can be very difficult to have more than one conversation at any one time. Social media facilitates numerous conversations and forms of interaction across multiple networks, while casting aside the restrictions of space and time. This is great I hear you say! However it can be very easy to lose yourself in all that noise. For business’s to further quantify the value of their interaction, they need data to facilitate further analysis of their marketing tactics, thus benefiting from this additional knowledge. Market knowledge allows businesses to make informed decisions about what to talk about next and where to talk about it. Marketing has always relied on tactical content placement, but with online media analysing the success of content placement becomes far more precise.
Good Content + Distribution Networks + Audience Interaction + Analysis = Success?
So do any of you out there have any experience here? Have such principles been a great success or a complete failure for your business? Or do you find yourself somewhere in between? What tools did you use? Which Networks did you target? What problems did you have? We’d love to hear you experiences whether you’re a Guernsey business or from further afield. So please comment.