Social networking – the latest marketing frontier! There is no doubt that social networking is revolutionizing marketing strategies, but how do companies and organizations tap into the power of cyber communities?
Dave Kerpen does a very good job of outlining the “dos” and “don’ts” of social network marketing in Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (and Other Social Networks).
A New Paradigm
Kerpen, and many other cyber marketing gurus, stress that the old marketing paradigm of pushing the brand on consumers is not only ineffective in social networking, but is actually harmful. The new marketing paradigm focuses on interaction with the customer. People use social networks to socialize and that means interacting, not just talking.
Some of the basic tenets of marketing –listening to the consumer, prompt customer service, and providing value – still apply to social networks. Now they are vital to new media marketing, and they are immediate. Marketing on networks means engagement with the consumer, a give-and-take relationship.
Another huge difference Kerpen stresses in his book is that, with social networks, the marketing function is no longer limited to one department. Because complaints (as well as compliments) can be broadcast quickly on Facebook and Twitter, other departments in an organization such as customer service or even the legal department need to be able to follow and be aware of the conversations going on about a product or service. Then the appropriate person needs to act quickly and appropriately.
Social networks allow organizations to have a reciprocal relationship with their customers and provide a huge reservoir of potential customers.
The Consumer Conversation
One of the first things to do is to listen to what people are saying about a company or organization on a network like Facebook. In a Wordstream interview, Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs, also emphasizes that the first thing to do is to “listen” to what consumers are posting on social networks. (Gabbert) Both men stress that this helps to provide insight into the characteristics of consumers as well as provide feedback for new product development.
The second part of the conversation is to respond authentically and quickly. Information posted to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn need to be relevant to the reader and timely. In the book, Kerpen uses real-life examples and stresses the mantra: Think like the consumer.
Quick and Cheap Feedback
Many of the “analytics” of social networking sites give valuable information on how many people are following an organization, how many are interacting, and how many are buying. These indicate what things are working and what things are not. (Seymour) It is cheap and easy to set up surveys – public or private – on a social networking site. The main expense seems to be the need to monitor. Employees need to monitor social networking traffic or the company needs to outsource it. The organization needs to keep up its side of the conversation.
Which Community for What Function
Throughout the book, Kerpen tries to match each social network offering with its best marketing features. He is geared most heavily to Facebook but outlines uses for Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn. He includes an appendix that does a fairly thorough job of explaining the best uses for each social networking site.
Making Fans into Promoters
One thing many social media marketing experts agree on is that an organization’s social networking fans are its best promoters. Kerpen points out in his book that the like function in Facebook is basically one person’s endorsement to all his friends. Most Facebook users average 130 friends, so each like is a recommendation to 130 potential customers. The strength is in the connection with a known friend.
Kerpen cautions that any supporting post has to be authentic, and the poster’s relationship with the organization needs to be transparent. If a poster is receiving gifts or discounts for the post, that needs to be plainly stated. Deception is difficult to maintain on a social network and, if revealed, can do immediate and devastating damage to an organization’s reputation.
A Good Primer
Likeable Social Media is a good primer for anyone looking to enter the social networking marketing game. However, Kerpen gives the impression that social networking is the ultimate path for marketing. He even states once or twice in the book that standard web sites no longer meet the needs of consumers. I disagree with this (especially since Kerpen has a web site). I believe that social networking is a huge and important networking tool, but Kerpen doesn’t address some of its pitfalls. Although he does discuss complaints and negative comments in the book, he doesn’t really address privacy concerns. When a person likes a site, does that make the user’s Facebook page open to the public? Are strict privacy settings bypassed?
While Kerpen stresses that social networking links need to be included in more conventional marketing instruments such as print brochures and television ads, he seems to dismiss these as outdated and facing extinction. However, these often may be the introduction to a brand or product (or social networking site).
This book is a valuable tool giving solid examples and outlining`essential processes for using social media for effective marketing.
Gabbert, Elisa. Interview with Social Media Expert Chris Brogan . The Wordstream Blog, 1 Feb. 2010. Web. 01 June 2013.
Seymour, Terri. Top 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for 2013. SiteProNews, 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 31 May 2013.