Matching the social platform used in a marketing campaign to the marketing objective of the campaign is the first step of successful strategy. Yet, all too often, early adopters rush to the shiny new object, regardless of whether it is the right choice for the specific need. And on the extreme opposite of the spectrum, risk averse marketers wait. And wait. Until all the proof is in, and any opportunity for first (or even second) mover advantage is lost.
We want to aim for the middle ground – to be in the right place for our audience with the right message at the right time.
Let’s break it down.
Right platform? Consider the social platform in the context of your marketing objectives. Is the platform conducive to your marketing need?
- Blogs: The deep content on blogs drives readers through to consideration and often purchase. More than 85% of the BlogHer audience has purchased a product based on a recommendation from a blog (BlogHer Social Media Matters 2012).
- Pinterest: Its curated content with aspirational and inspirational appeal acts as long term consideration sets for consumers.
- Facebook: Personal connections pique interest and foster consideration.
- Twitter: Broad amplification drives awareness
The Social Purchasing Funnel
Image Source: BlogHer marketing materials
Right time? Is your audience actively using the social platform? If your customers aren’t actively using a social platform, it doesn’t matter that it is the hot new thing. It is not the hot new thing for your brand. Continue to monitor, but move on, at least for now, for your overall marketing strategy. If you sense potential for the platform, be vigilant for an inflection point – that moment when enough of your audience is actively using the platform for it to be potentially useful in your marketing strategy. Maybe even test it with small pilot projects, but don’t expect any ROI from these pilots other than knowledge about the platform and your customer base. You are asking for failure if you expect your pilot project to deliver significant sales results.
Right message? Is your audience receptive to hearing about or engaging with your brand on this social channel? That they might not want to talk about your product doesn’t mean they might not engage with your company on related topics, but be honest about what you are bringing to the online conversation. Some advice I wrote in 2008 about the secret sauce for a perfect blog pitch might prove useful in this exercise.
You should spend at least as much time thinking about WHAT you want them to say/do, HOW you want them to react and engage with your brand, as you do slicing and dicing the demographics. More really, but I’ll settle for equal time to start. The social platform may be perfect and your audience ready and willing to engage with you, but if your message is forced and inauthentic, it will at best fall flat. At worst, you’ll understand the dark side of “viral” which is far closer to the real world meaning of the word than the sentiment behind the oft-repeated mantra of the social era: <clueless enthusiasm> let’s hope our story goes viral !</clueless enthusiasm>
Spend the time to sanity check your message and your ask, against the audience and the platform, and once you get started, monitor the community reaction closely and adjust as necessary. Spelling your name right is not a good substitute for positive brand awareness and corporate goodwill.