In part one I spoke of my recent trip to Silicon Valley where I had meetings with high tech investors such as Roger McNamee and with social media giants Google, Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter. It generated much “food for thought” and I shared some general insights with you.
This week I’m going to look at some of the more specific tips I picked up and how they can apply to your business.
Social media is booming. As I mentioned last week, in the US, growth in the use of portals and email is down or flat at best, but social media is up 52% year on year. This represents huge opportunities for the companies that are savvy in social media marketing. Those who are not, run the risk of being left behind.
It no longer matters which sector you work in – most of your customers are now communicating with one another online so it’s vital to have a sound social media strategy. Fear of negative feedback is no longer a valid reason not to interact with your customers – if people are discussing your brand anyway, why not embrace that engagement opportunity?
Facebook has certainly played its part in driving this growth and changing the internet from the “what” to the “who”. They understand the truism that personality plays a big part, that’s why it’s called “social” media! For example one of the reasons Facebook triumphed over Myspace was because its personalities are “real”, rather than having a username or handle.
Understanding social media is about not only knowing how the personality of your brand comes across, but also your fans and followers are all real people who are constantly interacting with one another. Of course the key is how to get your brand to be part of those interactions.
To leverage the power of social media, products and campaigns need to be “social by design”. Facebook have advocated a great model, the CEII Process:
What I like about this model is that it’s not only very successful for advertising on Facebook but can (and should!) be applied across most of your social media activity.
The starting point is to get your customers to “like”, “follow” etc your Facebook page (or other social media real estate). These fans become the cornerstone of your social media marketing. To generate fans, ensure you promote your Facebook page offline and online – across all the touchpoints you have with your customers.
Once connected with your brand, the next, more difficult, part is getting people to engage with your content, so they can distribute it to their own friends. To be engaging, brands shouldn’t just talk about themselves but also about their customers and their experiences. Create content and stories that can start conversations and generate engagement. Rather than relying solely on ads, use ads and stories.
Try to extend your influence by asking your customers to introduce your brand to their friends and invite them to join your communities. Provide high-quality content that your customers can use to influence a broader set of friends. This will increase your circle of influence to include those who will view and engage with your content. A Facebook Ad is 68% more effective if “Liked” by a friend. Also remember the “Like” button can also be made a social plug-in on anyone’s website.
Make your marketing (and even your product) social by design. Products such as Spotify and Netflix have elements that are designed to be shared with friends and are integrated with social media. By building social into the brand experience in a way that makes it better to use, it’s value increases when shared with friends.
This is an era of huge opportunities for all companies but especially small ones. The CEII approach does not require the large advertising budgets that used to be a barrier to entry for SME’s. Now, being creative and understanding how your customers use social media, is a better measure for success.
Brands must now constantly look to create opportunities for fans to build and maintain relationships with their friends. You also need to understand what is being said about your brand online, and the key drivers that influence your customers’ and fans’ behaviour.
For marketing success in social media, you need to develop an online personality for your brand, create a presence, build your target audience and engage with them. Then you can amplify your messages through their network and begin to reap the benefits of their online advocacy.