>No Cocktails Necessary: The Top Five Benefits and One Common Misconception of Social Media Marketing

30 01 2010

>Just found that a discussion I had with a potential client a day ago was actually causing me to lose sleep, so I figure that maybe if I put it down on paper, I’ll be able to get some shut-eye. The topic was “The Benefits of Social Media Marketing” and here is how it went:

Potential Customer (forever known as PC): I keep hearing that I should use social media to reach my customers. Can you tell me why?
Me (forever known as ,well, Me): Sure. Social media marketing is a great addition (key term) to any marketing plan. It enhances SEO organically, can extend your reach to potential clients with the social media sites, is highly targeted – you can actually seek out people talking about your service, product or niche and interact with them in real time.
PC: Mmm hmmm. (pregnant pause) Is it expensive?
Me: No – not when you compare with banner ad costs or listings on your niche directories. It is an inexpensive source of marketing that is also able to be tracked, in real-time, to best assess your successes and see where adjustments need to be made. You don’t have to wait for your 90 day banner listing to end before you get your stats. However, the most important factor of social marketing is the interactions between your business and your target market. In lieu of blind numbers, you’re building relationships(another key term) based on niche interests and needs, in lieu of advertising to the masses based on impressions per day and hits, you’re tracking the replies and online buzz or conversation being built by your social media accounts.
PC: Mmm hmmm.
Me: Any questions?
PC: So, your saying that I should drop my ads and do social media marketing?
Me: (inwardly groaning). No, not necessarily. We would need to assess the performance and stats for your ads to see if perhaps they needed to be adjusted to improve their return. If they’re not performing, then you’re not losing anything except their costs to drop them. I would suggest adding (that first key term cropping up again) a social media marketing aspect to your current web marketing plan.
PC: Well, if I do, I would need to have at least 5000 Twitter followers in the first month, can you guarantee that? How about Facebook FANS – shouldn’t we have at least 150 to start and…. (continues)
Me: (thinking) How long should I let him talk before I just hand over my card and say nice to meet you?…..

This conversation ended in a bust. I’m actually hoping don’t hear from this prospect, because he was a prime example of the BIGGEST misconception applied to social media marketing which makes doing the work more about numbers and less (if at all) about impact. Social media is NOT “the most followers, the most FANS, the most connections WINS and has more business than everyone and grows their profits by leaps and bounds.” Social media is meant to be SOCIAL.It’s also meant to be PART of a marketing plan, not your one-stop shop.

Putting it in plain English with a realistic-setting, here’s my five cent definition of Social Media Marketing:

Imagine that Social Media is a networking event in a local restaurant right after work where you plan to seek out potential clients. Then imagine that you have super-hearing and can seek out those exact people crowded around the free cocktails that are talking about your niche. That is what social media provides for businesses – the ability to seek out and interact with those people and companies within your target market, without having to talk to everyone else in the room. Without the cocktail, of course.

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