Too much of the conversation about social media seeks easy answers. Perspectives on Social Media puts 89 questions to B. Bonin Bough of Pepsico and Stephanie Agresta of Weber Shandwick, who offer informed perspective that may have you looking at your brand’s social media marketing in a new light.
The book is organized as a series of parallel blogs, with 89 questions composed by Mango! Marketing‘s Jay Miletsky – who does not shirk from asking some tough ones. Though the book is pitched emphasizing the “brand versus agency” contrast, both Bough and Agresta offer broad insights. As readers go through the questions – and I suspect most will skip around to topics of most interest – they will find themselves agreeing with one, then the other, then both, then neither.
The entries go deeper than most blog posts, though most subjects need examination to make the recommendations actionable. All in all, Perspectives on Social Media is a well written book that can serve as a “go-to resource” when you need a hype-less message or case study to improve your own social media conversations – and we all need all the help we can get engaging our bosses, marketing directors, clients and agencies to continuously improve our social media marketing.
What Is The Cost Of Entry For Social Media Marketing Effort?
B. Bonin Bough
The cost of entry can be anywhere from a few minutes of a person’s time to the development of an entire team to the cost of creating elaborate social media experiences. But I think the fundamental cost of entry you need to focus on is shifting the mind set of communicators, marketers, and organizations in general. At its core, social media is about socializing – having conversations with people. That is a big adjustment for communicators and marketers, who tend to be focused on campaigns or isolated activations that have a defined start and end date. With social media, the power is in building lasting relationships that you can foster over time. So it requires shifting from a campaign mentality to one where you build longâ€¢term relationships and have open-ended conversations.
Now, inherent in this longterm approach of moving from campaigns to conversations are longterm costs. You have to be prepared to build and nurture communities. In general, this involves several specific elements:
Listening and monitoring. The most important element of all is listening and monitoring the conversation that exists online about your brand, business, or area of interest.
Community management. I’ve discussed the importance of community management already, so I’ll just add here that it takes resources, whether the community is within a social network like Facebook, is a group of readers of a blog, or simply is a collection of people you communicate with through posts or tweets on a continual basis. But this is a cost you want to have, because the lifetime value of an engaged community is huge and the potential to drive action within that community is tremendous.
Community participation. It requires resources to foster participation and make sure social platforms stay vibrant. But again, that’s a cost you should be happy to have.
Value exchange. At the core of all successful social media efforts is adding value to the relationship you have with your community. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways: providing a unique experience for your community, featuring user content on one of your blogs, offering a promotion, or simply providing a link relevant to the discussion at hand.
Advocate identification. Advocates are people who are passionate about your brand, service, or you. Because the medium is less about broadcasting your message and more about having people share your message with their own personal networks, advocates are the real jewel in your crown. As such, they should be identified and supported. It’s essential that you nurture your relationship with your advocates.
From a tactical level, all the social media costs add up to less than what traditional marketing efforts such as TV and print usually cost, and social represents huge potential value in its ability to bring you into close relationships with your consumer. However, social media, if looked at in tactical isolation, misses its biggest potential value, which is to integrate it into all your marketing efforts. The biggest cost when it comes to integration will be in blood, sweat and tears, because it means rethinking existing and in some cases longâ€¢standing processes. But again, it’s through integration that you achieve the greatest value in social media. It’s your mass efforts that drive mass participation in your social channels. So it’s not a question of either/or, social or TV/print. You want to create a situation where all these channels support each other.
The cost of entry for a social media – marketing effort is very low. In fact, it’s free. Today, virtually anyone can participate in the social web, even if in only a passive capacity. By this, I mean that anyone can watch an online video or read a blog post with comments attached to them. These days, social media is so ubiquitous on the Web, it’s pretty hard to find people who don’t consume it in one fashion or another.
Most low-cost social media – marketing efforts occur because of individuals who embrace the tools and dialogue. Think about employees at a company; if they’re active on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, they essentially function as brand ambassadors. Every single time they tweet out a new product release or recommend their company’s service or product to a friend, they’re marketing. We live in an age in which anyone can be an influencer, including employees. Marketers who fail to recognize that are failing to tap into a valuable resource that’s right in front of them.
When I look at some of the very effective social media – marketing efforts that have been conducted at very little cost, I often associate an individual with the overall strategy. A great example is Brian Simpson, Director of Social Hospitality at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York. An active Twitterer, Brian invited local influencers and members of the New York tech and startup community to visit the hotel. Through his engagement with a core audience online and offline, he positioned Roger Smith Hotel as the mustâ€¢reserve hotel for out-of-town bloggers and Twitterati visiting the city. This is just one of many examples of one person driving a community and conversation to effectively market a brand. Others include Frank Eliason of Comcast and Scott Monty at Ford.
It’s hard to compare these efforts with traditional marketing efforts like media buys on TV or advertising. With traditional marketing, it’s easy to quantify what you’re investing in; with social media, the investment in people and conversation is much harder to quantify. The space is fragmented and therefore takes more to measure. We still need to invest in both, but I would argue that the return on the social end will be much higher in the long term.