The Incredible Efficiency of Social Media

(originally written for TalentZoo)

The explosion in marketing and message conveyance opportunities is simply breathtaking. We’ve gone from 3 TV stations to 500+. Satellite radio. Hundreds of new magazines. Out-of-home advertising on every available surface. And a little something called online advertising that’s now larger than radio in ad dollars spent.

As a result, audiences are fragmenting. There are no more 800 pound gorillas in advertising, and the challenge for marketers has shifted from “how to reach people” to “how to find the right people.”

Because of this fragmentation, there is more marketing waste than ever before. And in this down economy, we don’t have excess marketing dollars to utilize inefficiently.

Who’s the Most Targeted of Them All?

There’s been talk of cutting social media budgets because many corporations and agencies view it as “experimental.” That’s absolutely the wrong approach, because social media is the most targeted marketing medium available.

How many people watching a television spot for Wendy’s are likely to actually go there? Half? Two-third? Three-quarters for an exceptionally well-targeted ad?

A social media campaign on behalf of Wendy’s will ONLY reach interested consumers and prospects, and they’ll recruit others to participate – at no additional marketing cost to you.

Of course most social media initiatives don’t have the reach of even a modest broadcast campaign. But from an efficiency and effectiveness standpoint, it’s absolutely feasible that your social media program could match your advertising campaign.

Fish Where the Fish Are

The only targeting you need to worry about with your social media program is where to engage your audience. Ideally, you should have a social media presence that creates authentic relationships wherever your customers congregate. Practically, however, it may not be reasonable to establish and manage a massively widespread social media program immediately.

Consider using Rapleaf to assess which social media sites and platforms have the highest density of your customers. (Rapleaf uses your email database and cross-matches against major social networks and other sites). Another approach would be to ask your current customers via email where they prefer to spend their social media time, and use those findings to guide your efforts.

Start Your Engines

You can’t “push” social media on your audience. Instead, you humanize your brand – bring down the veil – and invite your audience to engage with you in some fashion that goes beyond them buying your product or service.

Social media doesn’t interrupt your regular programming. Or show up in your line of sight. Or fall out of the middle of your newspaper. Done right, social media is that kid from high school that everybody liked. He could hang with the football team, the band, the stoners, and the future farmers. Social media is that guy, but on behalf of your brand.

Consequently, if your objective is to create fans of your brand over the long term, not just to sell something immediately, a rich social media program should be at least part of the strategy. It’s entirely targeted, marketing waste is minimized if not eliminated, and gives you the ability to take market share from competitors that refuse to go beyond the norm.

(photo by tj scenes)

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