“Not my cup-of-tea”, I hear some of you say. But let's be clear about this - Social marketing is not a fad but something that's reshaping the way we communicate and will influence how we will do business in the future. It's a rocket taking off and you'd better jump on or be left behind in the dust!
The technical challenge of learning new things can always be daunting (especially to those of us over 25 years of age!). But even if you have to get your kids to help you, it's worth the time and effort.
A recent article claimed that 80% of all marketers in the US were now using social marketing in their toolkit. The biggest single obstacle stopping more people using it is pure lack of knowledge (and, I suspect, fear).
There are several options now to choose from and here are just a few of the better known ones worth learning more about.
Facebook – is a social networking site where users can create their own profile with information about themselves on their education, likes and dislikes etc., and insert photos and videos into their profile. Facebook can be used to swap stories, send messages, play games with friends and many more things. It can also provide a web presence without needing to build a website.
Several businesses and brands have Facebook pages which customers, fans and friends can interact with by providing their comments, own photos and have a dialogue. The two main business advantages it seems to offer are providing:
- A forum for consumers & customers to have a dialogue with the brand or business; and
- An opportunity for customers to get to know the personality behind the brand e.g. for a small to medium business, it would be getting to know the owner on a personal basis.
Facebook is being used increasingly as a key part of the promotional program of many businesses. The most successful examples of such programs include website and email campaigns in well integrated and orchestrated campaigns involving not only Facebook but other networks such as Twitter.
Facebook is now considered the big thing, surpassing MySpace and getting plenty of media coverage. Visit http://www.facebook.com/.
MySpace– is also a social networking site that is interactive but is termed a ‘community of friends' by some tech experts. It does all the things Facebook does except perhaps some of the applications available differ, as does the target audience. MySpace is reportedly used more by teenagers and by people under 30 years of age, which is perhaps why its users vie to see how many “friends” they have joined to their profile page.
MySpace was the biggest social network on the planet and continues to grow at a fast rate but not as fast as Facebook. Visit http://www.myspace.com/.
LinkedIn– is a business-oriented social networking site used by companies and business professionals to maintain connections with clients, existing or previous corporate colleagues and other professional contacts. The site allows members to build a profile page showing their employment history, special skills, significant accomplishments and other features. It has various applications that can be used to complement these profiles by adding further information. Many recruitment firms now review this site for contacts and potential candidates. Visit http://www.linkedin.com/home.
Twitter – is another free social networking service although much newer than the others mentioned. The difference with Twitter is that it is a micro-blogging service with ‘tweets' (the name for a user's communication to others) being limited to 140 characters, which influences the style and nature of what is posted. Dubbed as time-wasting and trivial by some commentators, Twitter seems to continue growing regardless. Recent research showed that more marketers were currently using Twitter than consumers but the increasing profile of this particular program can't be ignored. Visit http://www.twitter.com/
The best way to visualize what each one offers is to go and have a look at them. Look at individual sites but most importantly, look at how businesses are using them – you will be awed! Even better, join up with some of them and try out the experience. It's the only way to learn.
The world continues to change at the speed of light, so don't be left behind. The dinosaurs did become extinct eventually…