Social marketing offers a new way to interact with consumers, but aside from being another channel, it requires a different mindset to achieve results. This is Web 2.0, where the consumer is in charge of the message and will angrily resist big brand pressure and broadcast marketing. Content needs to have merit to thrive in the social space, so cheesy slogans are out and well-thought comments and humor are in.
So where to start with this new medium? That depends on what kind of business you are in.
Big brands and high-budget marketing departments have a part to play in the new social channels; viral campaigns that include fun or interesting content thrive on YouTube and other video-sharing sites.
One of the benefits of the new Web 2.0 culture is that it is not always high-budget content that makes it to the top of the list. As a matter of fact, the low-budget approach tends to resonate better with consumers, while a big production effort tends to come across as trying too hard. Create something wacky or funny, and people will start to share and comment; it is possible to make something that is successful, as long as it’s engaging and worth sharing.
However, don’t make anything you wouldn’t share yourself, and ensure you test out the ideas on a wide range of individuals in your target audience.
The other side of social marketing is the communication and recommendation areas springing up all over the Internet. The Twitter phenomenon has gained massive attention recently, partly due to the American presidential elections when up-to-the-minute commentary and news was available in real-time.
You should make three blog posts a day when you launch a blog, in order to have enough material to draw readers. Bloggers must realize that in the beginning, they will write for a very small audience, as it does take time to build up interest and followers. Blogs can be promoted on the corporate Web site and on Twitter — Google and the other search engines will index them and drive traffic, so make sure that entries are tagged well and that titles are interesting and contain key themes for your business.
So, if you are looking for a low-cost strategy to build customer engagement in a down market, the cheapest and easiest way is to construct something around the people in your organization and your thought leadership — focus on the people in the organization and the market, rather than on particular products.
It’s time for marketers to engage end-users through social media to create and maintain brand awareness and build customer loyalty.