As promised, I’ve decided to share (and test) my next three rules of social media marketing, as a follow on to my last post.
These are loosely inspired by the “immutable laws” from Ries and Trout, and are based on some of the models my firm is developing. They also aim to be observations and discussion starters as much as recommendations.
I welcome your feedback, critique and ideas for additional rules, and will plan to post more real-time thoughts and updates via Twitter. So here goes.
It’s better to be better, than it is to be first
I know, I said this list is loosely inspired by Ries and Trout – but I just couldn’t help this one. Traditional marketing says that you should be first. But I’m convinced that social media rewards the fast follower. Not only are switching costs dropping (to zero?), but the nature of social media makes it incredibly easy to share hot tips, create buzz and look for the lower price or better option. Take MySpace vs. Facebook. MySpace was first, but by the middle of 2008 Facebook passed MySpace in monthly visitors and hasn’t looked back (note that MySpace still has the second-highest market share of US visits for social sites). Plus, many early social marketing campaigns were essentially market tests with little or no way to really measure ROI. Some worked, some didn’t. Now, better tools and emerging ROI models allow us to create better campaigns and user experiences and returns for our investors – and build on the successes (and failures) of others.
Social conversations continue (or start) offline as well
Last time I mentioned that social media is the ultimate discussion starter. But it’s not the only discussion starter (or finisher). Communities, and user groups and focus groups existed long before social networking! And in work environments, organizations that have the most effective knowledge sharing have created a social infrastructure (business platform) that not only supports multiple social channels but also traditional channels like email. Social marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And just as radio didn’t go away when television came along, traditional marketing programs won’t either. For this reason any reasonable Community Marketing Model (yes, I have one) needs to include both online and offline touch points and a seamless weave of social and traditional marketing as you move from conversations, to deep discussions and learning from the community.
Social marketing IS a battle of perceptions (and good content)
To get the part, you have to play the part. If user-generated content and connections are the primary currency of social media, effective social marketing needs to not only be informational or clever or offer unique content, but also establish the company or their representatives as regular, trusted members of the community. A number of successful B2B social networking sites and portals have done just this, by promoting both the benefits of reaching peers and having ready access to unique content or research, experts, news feeds etc (see common ground for a great example). In traditional marketing, the message shapes perception. In social marketing, the community increasingly shapes your brand. Before, perception was an outcome of good marketing. Now, having a good perception in the market may be necessary to even getting your message out!
What do you think? Do these three new rules hit the mark as well as the first three? Any other ones?