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Social media – great stuff but ….

I participated in a marketing problem solving session recently. Our local chapter of the American Marketing Association got a number of us together to discuss topics that were on members’ minds and kick around solutions.

The first topic on the agenda was social media, were members using it, if so – how, how were members measuring the results, etc.

Let me start off by saying that I love these kinds of discussions. Someone throws out an issue, others comment on what action steps may be taken to solve it. Someone else builds on what has been said. The conversation goes into areas none of us would have predicted. I find these types of conversations very energizing because it reaffirms my belief that marketing in many ways is an art and a science. Very rarely is there one correct solution.  One plus one in many cases can be greater than 2!

We had a group of about 20 individuals. One member would discuss an issue they were having and the group would offer ideas / solutions. One person suggested that the target company start a blog, another suggested it start a Facebook page, and another suggested Twitter, and so on. Conversation went back and forth with the individual who asked for advice suggesting reasons why a particular idea may or may not work.

What struck me was while many of the tactics the group was discussing have been used successfully by business in numerous B-to-B and B-to-C situations all involve costs, both the money that is spent directly and indirectly on the tactic and the opportunity cost (time spent on one tactic cannot be used on another). What makes social media different from more traditional tactics such as an advertising campaign or sponsorship is that many social media tactics often require a significant ongoing investment of time and dollars.  Results come slowly and are built over time. If you want a quick hit social media may not be the best choice.

Before embarking on the social media road, make sure you ask and answer the following questions;

  1. Who is my customer?
  2. How does my customer receive information?
  3. What does my customer need that they are not getting now?  How do I know?  When was the last time I asked them?
  4. How does my product/service meet those needs?
  5. How does my customer want to communicate with me?
  6. What do I want to accomplish from my communication program?  How can I build loyalty without being perceived as selling?
  7. Do I have the time and the resources to implement and build a successful program
  8. How do I measure results?

Now decide if and how one or more social media tactics can work for you.

An effective social media strategy can build loyalty, encourage word of mouth recommendations and build a strong barrier to entry for your competition. It can be extremely successful in both B-to-C and B-to-B situations. The best game plans don’t just happen. Everyone on your team needs to understand the costs in time and dollars and the potential rewards proactively in order to increase the chance for success.

Until next time – all the best!

RolandB

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