Larry Brauner

I explained in Top 10 Reasons for Social Marketing why marketers need to add social media to their repertoire and promised to “write about the unique challenges that social media marketing poses” to early adopters.

Here then are my top ten challenges that social marketers will likely grapple with:

  1. Social media often meets with skepticism and resistance inside an organization. This reaction is normal to anything radically new. I suggest that you present social marketing to your colleagues as an experiment that will complement conventional multichannel marketing if successful, not replace it.
  2. Results aren’t achieved nearly as quickly with social media as they are with direct marketing techniques. When planning an experiment or production, be careful about forming unrealistic timing expectations.
  3. The social media learning curve is very steep. Few books or courses teach social marketing, and much of the information available online is unreliable or even biased. I recommend that you seek experienced outside professional help to chart your social marketing path, set policy and facilitate implementation.
  4. It’s easy to spin wheels and waste lots of time going nowhere. There are way too many interesting social networking sites and lots of hype surrounding them. Be sure to read Social Media Targeting for People and Businesses.
  5. Marketers tend to think in terms of generating leads and building databases rather than building a following and a community — new media style. Furthermore, social media is about relating person to person, not about relating impersonally to people as a company. Be prepared to think in new ways.
  6. Since social media is community oriented, contributing to one’s community is essential. It’s not enough to communicate just to customers or to prospects.
  7. Traditional push marketing and list building techniques are usually regarded as spam and are ineffective in the social media world. Old and new media approaches tend to be incompatible. In the social marketing paradigm information is made available online for discovery and hopefully action, and this process isn’t something that can be forced.
  8. Most newcomers to social marketing think one dimensionally and latch onto fads such as the social media site du jour. Social marketing isn’t one site or one strategy fits all. Once again I recommend Social Media Targeting for People and Businesses.
  9. Social media is still evolving rapidly and tends to be a moving target. While social media is global, participation in non-English speaking countries is stilted towards English speaking demographics such as students and upper classes. Remain alert to changes in technology and new opportunities that are bound to occur.
  10. Social media can work against a brand, not just for it — and can be very unforgiving. However, this is true even if companies elect not to use it for marketing or for their public relations. It’s therefore better to be proactive than reactive.

I’m sure you’ll agree that these are all important issues. I hope deal with them individually and in more detail in subsequent posts.

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Larry Brauner

Even today social media remains a mystery to most marketers. In the minds of most retailers and marketing executives, social media consists of teens messaging on Facebook, sharing pics on Flickr, writing in their blogs or tweeting all their doings on Twitter.

Perhaps they read a few news blogs themselves or have a profile on LinkedIn, but they’re still scratching their heads and wondering how any of this could possibly be useful to them in business.

Coming from the conventional marketing world myself and looking back to my first impression of social media, I can appreciate the retailing and B2B marketing establishment’s legitimate skepticism. That’s why I put together my top reasons for using social marketing for you to share with your colleagues and top management.

Let me caution you however, that social marketing requires its own mindset. Marketing strategies that work well with traditional media won’t necessarily be as effective if applied to new media.

These then are my top ten reasons to take social marketing seriously:

  1. Social marketing is a logical extension of the multichannel marketing strategy of diversification. Social media sites can extend a company’s web presence far beyond the limits of its e-commerce, lead generation or information sites.
  2. Social media builds awareness of products and brands by attraction rather than interruption, and by pulling rather than pushing. Consumers enjoy the discovery process and don’t feel annoyed by it.
  3. Social media employs a community and list building paradigm that’s much more comprehensive, natural and intimate than conventional databases and autoresponders.
  4. Social media marketers engage customers in dialog. They talk with the customer rather than at the customer as is generally the case with conventional media. Social media can also facilitate post-sale support and dissemination of valuable product tips to customers.
  5. Social media used properly can build frequency less expensively than conventional media educating and informing the consumer over time.
  6. Social media can help reach target markets that are too difficult or expensive to reach using conventional means.
  7. Reach doesn’t determine cost, so social media can target a narrow vertical market while at the same time casting a wide net. Efficiency doesn’t really matter much in the context of social media reach.
  8. Search engines like social media, and social marketing leverages free high-quality search exposure which is preferable to paying for low-quality pay-per-click or banner advertising.
  9. Social media sites and your e commerce websites are available 24/7 more or less indefinitely. It’s much like having an ad run in every issue of a publication or like having a catalog or sales letter retained until the customer is ready to make a buying decision.
  10. Using social networking sites it is often possible to connect directly with B2B decision makers without interference from protective gatekeepers.

Social marketing is different from other forms of Internet marketing. I write about the unique challenges that social media marketing poses in Top 10 Social Media Challenges.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about me and my social media and web marketing services.

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