How do you track results from your traditional direct mail or advertising campaigns? If you’re like most small business owners and entrepreneurs, you probably compare the number of phone or email inquiries you get before and after a particular PR or marketing activity, or you monitor traffic on your Web site or at your bricks-and-mortar establishment, or you track product orders online or in-person. You also know that while such measures are not exact science, unlike full-blown market surveys, they will at least give you a pretty good sense of whether your efforts are having an impact or not.
Of course, most of us have no idea what kind of increased activity we might see due to marketing, if any. We’re just hoping for some sort of spike in activity, some sense that our efforts are worthwhile.
Attended this very “to the point” webinar this week with @JanetAronica (@HubSpot) and Eric Keeting of @Compete. I wanted to post the Slide Share presentation of the webinar (you can also hear/see the recorded webinar here on HubSpot) because I believe that this same information applies to driving publicity–inbound vs. (traditional) outbound. See below.
At this point, I am not that completely sold on the use of social media for direct inbound marketing unless it’s a part of a traditional campaign or perhaps if the brand is well known or fits a specific niche with online community users. When it comes to the personal, small business or new brands (especially those with limited marketing budgets), I truly believe that new/social media is must more situated to drive inbound publicity over marketing.
Why so much focus on “social media marketing?” Not sure—it’s new and fun? No, I’m kidding. Social media marketing is a true “art form,” BUT I don’t think a whole lot of people or companies can pull off that large of an ROI. Those who are driving high traffic marketing campaigns are still few and far between. For the most part, most of the high-end social media marketing initiatives are driving more publicity than a true marketing or lead generation reach.
That said if more people and businesses were to approach and utilize social media as public relations and publicity tool over a direct marketing/lead generation tool they will get the RIO they are looking for. We must use social/new media for PR purposes FIRST; marketing and advertising second. Social media is a new media channel that allows people and businesses to build and maintain publicity and public relations on a very cost-effective and timeless basis (over traditional PR practices). Social media PR works, but ONLY if approached correctly and managed routinely. Social media PR, like it’s traditional counterpart’s, success equates to having a consistent and focused content ranking on search engines (in the traditional vein that equates to print or television news media) as well as in social networks and media channels (traditionally this would equate to having popularity/thought leadership following within popular groups or specific industries).
Social media PR is also about building a network or following/fan base via engagement with one’s public and prospective or current clients/customers as well as providing thought leadership and good information to connections and users of social networks and the other media channels. Works the same in the traditional vein of PR.
The difference between getting or having social media PR and traditional PR (publicity really) is the fact that social media “sticks” – traditional publicity is fleeting. This is due to the nature of the subject matter and the fact that most traditional media is buried (eventually – some stories go away faster than others, depends on the subject matter). With social media, we can continue to manipulate and contribute connect to drive positive feedback and search engine placement etc.
I’m sorry, but the term social media marketing is WAY over done and used as far as I am concerned… can’t we just agree that we are ALL involved in a budding new media channel and not all marketing programs can work in it? I have to say that SOCIAL MEDIA PR does work – but, like with any type of PR (most of the time)—you have to work at it and especially since new media is growing and still developing.
The other day I uploaded some new contacts from my outlook to LinkedIn (invitation to connect)–50% of those connections were NOT Linked In members. Now I realize that not everyone is not “into” LinkedIn like me. Maybe they like Facebook better and maybe (like my 49 year old business owner/CFO sister) they just are not online or not social media/network oriented people. Sure the number of social media users is growing by the bushel, but I will bet that 50% of those users who absolutely do “jump in”—still don’t participate. And I bet that most of those (new users) absolutely do use the internet to search for information on companies, people, things, places, etc. Most of the reporters of the world use the internet to search for information and stories.
So what propels someone to click on a link? Maybe the 50% OFF offer they see on a Google Adwords or a Facebook Fan Page—yes, but I bet for the most part they will never buy anything until they read more about that company, that offer, that new brand until they READ more about it first. Social Media PR will and does ultimately drive a person’s decision to buy in the end. I rest my case.
Corporate executives are still bent on getting a quick ROI out of social media…a legitimate request yes …also a stalling tactic? Great read via the PR News Blog (August 19, 2011): http://ow.ly/69Fp2.
According to Pepsi Co’s global head of digital Bonin Bough, being gripped by fear of adapting to social media can be fatal (for organizations): “Failure to adapt to the digital evolution is written on the balance sheets of companies.”
Staying away from social media due to fear of failure or spending the time or money that needs to be dedicated to a long-term investment is not the way to get along with a new media channel that is certainly here to stay. There is no doubt that social media and the web in general will create a shorter term investment as it settles into the norm.
For now, we must invest with patience–and it’s a very small long-term investment to make for what is sure to be a huge ROI in the very near future. To that end, this is not about “waiting for the best time” –when social media is “well-developed” for immediate ROI. What form of media DOES provide immediate ROI anyway? Print ads, news stories etc. — sure, but also fleeting if you don’t keep the advertising going or the PR machine pumping. Social media is and will be no different than other media channels– it will eventually give way to long-term, consistent return on investment. Social media, as Bonin Bough says, is here to stay and it is NOT a fad.
Therefore, I believe that every company should now at least have the social media/online persona basics in place. And the focus should not only be on the main company brand, but also on executive leadership as well as employees. It will soon be a must for the CEO, CMO, COO etc. (company leadership) to engage with online followers/audience on a regular basis–and having employees engage for the benefit of the company brand is certain to become another key ingredient for all company brands looking for success in the social media space. This will soon be the new reality of marketing and business development.
As a public relations professional and social media PR producer/manager, I get asked that question all the time, especially as companies big and small and individuals from all sorts of industries and professions jump aboard the social media bandwagon. (It’s as though someone’s built the better mousetrap . . . and everyone wants in).
Of course social media “works,” but what that means varies by business and by individual. It really comes down to the results you desire and your audience. Just because you think social media is a great idea, doesn’t mean they do.
Can social media raise awareness of your company or personal brand?
As a long-term strategy, that’s a big “yes” on both accounts. Of course, you have to work at it, you have to generate quality content, and you have to be vigilant. But the ease with which you can push out posts and blogs and tweets makes social media a natural for creating “buzz” about you and your products or services and for keeping the volume cranked up to a healthy “11.” Plus, it doesn’t cost much to get your feet wet (though I will argue that you get what you pay for: getting your feet wet is quite a stretch from realizing social media’s maximum benefit for your business).
Having said all that, you might feel tempted to toss all of your eggs into the social media basket. Not so fast . . . hear me out.
Despite all that’s been said about it, Social media is not the cure for your every marketing ill. It’s important. It’s powerful. It’s far-reaching. But, really, social media is just another “channel”—a very robust, new, and exciting channel, mind you—through which you can reach out to customers and prospects with relative ease.
Remember when cable TV exploded in the 1980s and 1990s, adding a whole universe of additional niche markets to mine? We didn’t simply drop our traditional TV, print, or radio marketing back then did we? No. At the time, cable TV simply represented another tool in our marketing tool box, one we needed to work with, learn, and “try out” to see how we could use it most effectively. Such is the case nowadays with social media.
For some, social media might comprise the bulk of their marketing efforts; for others, it may be nothing more than an afterthought, a “nice-to-have” but not a necessity. As a business owner or a business professional looking to increase your brand awareness, you need to consider whether social media can produce the kind of return on investment necessary to justify the amount of attention and resources you give it—just as you would with any other marketing tool. How you deploy social media boils down to your target audience, your product or service, and what you determine is the most effective way to reach out and engage your customers and prospects.
As an individual, how much time can you dedicate to creating and pushing out the content needed to position you or your company as a thought leader?
If you don’t have the time, do you have the resources to hire someone else to execute a social media strategy for you?
Once engaged in social media, how can you turn social media traffic into real sales? Getting fans or having someone tag you in a photo is one thing—it means you’ve been noticed—but how can you translate that into new business?
What ways can you convert social media traffic into sales traffic . . . or at least bona fide leads?
If these considerations seem vaguely familiar, it’s because they also can be applied to traditional media. Running an ad? What’s your call to call-to-action? Staging an event, what kind of time and resources can you dedicate to it?
You see, social media is really an additional way for prospects to engage in a dialogue with you. Ultimately, you still need to convert them into customers.
For sure, social media needs to be part of the 21st century marketing mix, right alongside the tried and true plus other new media that might be coming down the pike (whatever that might be!). But relying on social media to be your sole means for connecting with your target audience, at the exclusion or the downplaying of everything else, is risky business. Although, yes, it can work for some. As I look back over the last few years (especially!), social media PR has worked for me quite well, but then again—I’ve paired social media alongside email marketing and old fashioned networking (channels).
I’ve seen many companies and individuals go “all-in” with social media, only to find that it’s not the end all/be all they thought it was—at least not in the short-term. Social media is a great way to increase your visibility over time through consistent blogging and frequent updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites—but getting customers and prospects to buy something from you still takes good old fashion legwork, quality leads, and the ability to deliver on your brand promise . . . and there’s no substitute for that.