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06 Mar 2013

Don’t be too extreme about social media

Ten years ago the world was split into people who thought that ecommerce was a fad and those that thought eventually people would only buy things online. Today the world is split between those that think social media is the domain of sad people with no lives who have no value to brands or businesses, and those that think it is the panacea for marketing to consumers or business buyers. In both cases, both groups are wrong and the truth lies somewhere on the scale between both extremes – depending on your business and who you are trying to reach.

Everywhere I look I see extreme views when it comes to social media. Brands that have built likes through competitions are told that this is a waste because most will be non-prospects. But this overlooks the connection potential of the personal network of these contest takers. It also overlooks the fact that the competition could provide the foundation for a productive emarketing campaign or affiliate marketing opportunities.

The counter view is to be very targeted so only those people who are the perfect demographic should be attracted to engage. Logical I know, but it pre-supposes that you really understand the true potential of your brand or product. Is its appeal genuinely limited to a tight demographic, or will consumers see it differently if given the chance? A few years ago we were asked to launch a product that was thought to have very niche appeal. We gave it to consumers ahead of launch and they felt it had value for almost everyone. The result? The brand changed its retail strategy and secured mainstream listings and the launch was the most successful in the 50 year history of our client.

If you want a healthy lifestyle, all the gurus talk about moderation in all things. So if you want a healthy social media presence, would moderation in all things be similarly good advice? In my view engaging with consumers on social media has a number of powerful benefits if you avoid these don’ts:

  • Don’t be too narrow with your demographic. We recently organised a social sampling exercise on Facebook. One consumer said: ‘Thanks for the sample. They weren’t ideal for me so I gave them to my mother. She absolutely loves what they have done for her hair!’.
  •  Don’t underestimate the value of social media feedback.  Because consumers will tell you how it is, the context they provide will help you to switch off people you could never satisfy and attract those that you can. A hotel review that says: ‘Fabulous service but 40 minutes from the nearest night life’; will deter the clubbers and attract those who want to chill out and relax.
  •  Don’t miss out on the potential for more targeted messages. By capturing a broad community of followers, you have created the opportunity for more targeted messages using email marketing and other techniques
  • Don’t forget consumers come together on social media to discuss topics where they have a common interest. You will build an active following who will genuinely ‘like’ you (and not just like your page) if you add value to the topic they care about
  • Don’t miss out on the reach of friend networks. Social media is built on benevolence ie the desire to do dome good for others. As a result people will share things they think are right for their contacts. All you have to do is make sure you make it easy to share everything you say or offer by adding share buttons
  • Don’t forget to monetise your social media activities. This may seem obvious but I rarely see good examples of where social media interaction includes the direct opportunity to convert to a purchase. This doesn’t mean you have to be dominated by offers, but it should mean that if people are showing interest by consuming relevant content, you provide them with the opportunity to buy.

If you avoid these six don’ts, I think you will increase the likelihood that your social media presence will pay off. But I’m sure you have some more don’ts we could add to the list. Please share them here.

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