Unlike traditional sales and marketing, web 2.0 or social media isn’t a simple cause and effect process. It can’t simply be defined as PR, sales, marketing or customer service as it can be a combination of each. So just where should SME’s start with this exciting new medium?
To start with you can’t ignore it as another fad or plaything. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are now well understood and established platforms with major brands trusting what they have to offer.
And this is backed up by the figures. For the first time online advertising (£1.75B) has now outstripped TV (£1.64B).
And the results can be impressive too. Earlier in the year Dell ran a Twitter campaign which generated more than £1.9M worth of sales.
But it’s no use setting up a Twitter, Facebook or any of the other accounts and hope for the best. You could waste hours of time and introduce mixed messages, which at best will confuse people about your organisation and at worst alienate them.
To avoid this and project manage your entry into social media marketing, you need to create a six point plan, which should cover the following areas:
- Strategy and objectives to clearly establish what you wish to achieve (e.g. product awareness, product trial, customer feedback, repeat sales, account reactivation)
- Identify which social media sites are best placed to help you achieve your objectives
- Establish the tangibles you are trying to effect (e.g. targeted leads, drive more traffic to your website, readership, conversations with prospects and customers)
- Creation of a ‘Touch point’ map, identifying where in your organisation, prospects and customers directly experience your brand
- Establish how you can measure what you wish to achieve and thus determine the ROI
- Check that you have the appropriate resources to manage your social media marketing. It is real time communication that has a rapid roll-out and very fast response.
With traditional marketing, what you say directly influences the actions of the group targeted. With social media marketing what you say, influences how the targeted group thinks about you and then provides them with a platform enabling them to communicate this to others.
This is why the ‘Touch point’ map is vital. If you have a great product but poor delivery, social media marketing is a great way to improve. However you must acknowledge what people feel, not try to sweep their views under the carpet. This is why you need to be scrupulously honest and transparent, otherwise you will be caught out and that can back fire on you.
It’s all about building relationships and delighting, rather than selling to the people with whom you are communicating. Get it right and you create a powerful ally, as positive testimonials are arguably one of the most powerful and effective ways to increase sales. Get it wrong and you can cause confusion and create negative opinion. However, ignore it and it is quite clear that you are missing a proven opportunity.