So-called social media is currently one of the hottest topics for media and trend forecasters. The fact is: according to a study by Nielsen, an increasing number of people worldwide spend more and more time in social networks such as, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Since 2009, the number of users has also increased by more than 30 percent. In its “2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report”, MarketingSherpa.com concluded that only email marketing and social media could register a budget increase last year. A lot of commotion widely. But is this justified? What is the new medium really about?
Three theses on social media:
Dialogues are held openly here. Public conversations of companies and brands with customers or between customers require a new way of thinking and above all, courage for openness and publicity. Here, one of the largest handicaps of German companies in contrast to US companies becomes apparent. Many German companies associate negative opinion with social media. However, the fear of those in charge is really ungrounded as all opinions find their way onto the internet, anyway. Consequently, companies should only ask themselves, whether they are opinion forming during this exchange.
The largest opportunity however is not in the distribution of promotional messages, but rather in the “listening”. If customers communicate their requirements, express their product experience in words and “live with” brands, this offers an enormous potential to improve the understanding of the customer and his demands. Whoever uses this potential, can convert consumers and customers into real fans and messengers.
It is important therefore, to integrate this contact point in the marketing mix in order to establish contacts and communication. Social media present their special benefits through the previously mentioned two points and above all through the high degree of person-orientation of the services themselves.
Such a question could well lead you down the wrong path. More important are the questions about why and what for. If we reflect on the three theses, social media can open up the exiting potential for direct marketing. The most important aspect is the above mentioned person-oriented focus of the services. This is about the individual user, not the scope of an ad space. Therefore, social media must be understood and implemented as part of the whole CRM concept. What is possible and how you can go about it will be explained in this brief overview outlining some of the possibilities and examples:
What has proven useful for email opt-ins can’t be bad for social media. Refer to your social network sites from all your existing contact points. But only if you have something exciting and above all have current topics there. To promote a pure “I’m in there” presence doesn’t make much sense. Only brands, our users would like to “adorn” themselves with, have the chance to generate fans via a simple web campaign. View social media as part of a communication strategy and show your contacts this possibility.
Share With Your Network (SWYN) buttons are no more than social bookmarking, but they are easy to implement. However, consider that people only forward things that are really exiting. SWYN can promote a whole newsletter or only individual articles or landing pages. But let’s be honest: Most newsletters are not sufficiently exiting nor contemporary to require forwarding. In addition, newsletters as collections of individual messages are often not granular enough for typical social networking messages. It is therefore more promising to develop special actions, which incite targeted forwarding in social networks. An example would be a customer-recommends-customer promotion, which specifically rewards the intermediaries of leads from social networks. Extend campaigns: content push in social networks You can extend campaigns in social networks directly via individual social network accounts. News or mailings are generally published via teasers on the individual pages and profiles on Facebook, MySpace etc. using interfaces such as the ELAINE Social Network Proxy Service. This type of redistribution is usually very simple. More important is the specific processing of the teaser, i.e. the messages for social networks where communication is mostly personal, more authentic and above all less promotional.
Through the extension of campaigns and the encouragement of distribution, more and more people will have contact with your company and its information. But how can these contacts be used effectively? Our target is always the medium-term conversion into a direct personal dialogue. However, the generation of real leads and direct marketing opt-ins from social networks is a special challenge requiring sophisticated tactics. Depending on the context (B2C or B2B), you may present not only your newsletter or the pure target information with the distribution of information via SWYN, but a special version including a reference to the subscription option or a version which only allows full view after registration. Links to other services after subscription to e.g. a newsletter and special actions for lead generation (e.g. product samples or competitions) can be embedded directly on the individual social network sites. Use the “herd instinct” of social networks e.g. by pointing out how many people have recently become fans or how many new participants were in the competition on a specific day.
There is one vital point in which social media measures and email marketing hardly differ. For both forms of marketing, the right approach regarding customers is a decisive criterion. Even if the preconditions, such as the format, are conceivably different, questions such as who are the information receptors, what do they want and how do they communicate are the same in both cases. Social networks are about radiating a stronger personality instead of approaching people with softer, aseptic company PR. It is about an authentic, current dialogue, which is exclusively tuned to the customer perspective.
A core issue of marketing in social media is how to measure actions and success. This is partly due to the (still) limited technical possibilities at the beginning of the evolution of this medium, but also depends on the heterogeneity of the services, which – above all – are used parallel. Therefore, no clear channel division is possible. However, the topic develops rapidly. The Federal Association of Digital Economy (Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft e.V., BVDW) has recently defined the parameters of the capacities for social networks. Different providers of tracking tools also offer benchmarking of scope, entries, conversions and similar. Important is among other things the meticulous tracking of leads and the assignment to the particular networks.
If we take into consideration the actual focus of all marketing activities in this context, i.e. the individual person, this can easily become confusing. Last but not least, this may be about identifying an unknown contact in different services and applications in order to benchmark it for the optimisation of lead generation. This may be to address him or her specifically on landing pages or to analyse the user engagement as a whole. The new generation of artegic’s ELAINE Online Dialog CRM masters these tasks based on anonymous profiling. The aim is to identify contacts in social networks at an early stage, reidentify and transfer them into a profile building process for CRM and dialogue marketing.
As in many other sectors, the benchmarking of targets and success still requires extensive tasks in this very young marketing discipline of social media. Nevertheless, many targets can be realised with adequate strategy and careful planning. Whoever places the human being in the centre and adapts the design of the individual activities accordingly, stands a good chance of forging long-term customer relations out of apparently loose, not very specific contacts.