Social media – think before you tweet

Chris Fell, Managing Director of g2msolutions, writes…

It is simply impossible to read a marketing article these days without someone expressing an opinion about social media. I have actively avoided blogging about this phenomenon up to this point because, well, I didn’t want to be part of the Twitterati (with the emphasis firmly on the “Twit” in too many cases!)

However I can resist no longer! If for no other reason than that I feel the urge to shout from the rooftops that social media is NOT some incredible technological breakthrough that is going to revolutionise our world, but yet another evolution in the digitised world in which we live. What is different, and for some alarming, is the speed of adoption and scope of reach of social media.

Nonetheless, most would agree that the initial hype surrounding social media is starting to subside and the much harder work of extracting real benefit from the medium is beginning to bear fruit.

In the unforgiving world of B2B marketing, the shift towards marketing spending on social media has been turbocharged by the GFC. Marketing budgets haven’t simply been subjected to tight cost control and demands for execution with greater surgical precision; rather assaulted by uncompromising, indiscriminate, axe wielding accountants from HQ cutting great swathes through marketing budgets around the world.

So, it’s cheap. Cheap is good.

But what conditions need to exist for it to be effective?

The network you wish to influence needs to be social media savvy, either already connected or at least open to the concept. It’s no different to the advent of the phone. The utility of the owning the first phone in the world was zero. There was no one to call! As the network grows so does the utility. Is the audience you wish to communicate with at a point where they are adopting social media tools? Do they use Twitter? Do they read blogs?

Be cautious about over engineering your social media strategy. Perhaps start with a LinkedIn group, first and foremost. Many business people have a LinkedIn account so it is a familiar interface, “safe” and a regular place they visit.

However real effectiveness is more elusive. It is about achieving consistency and alignment with your go to market plan. Beware of simply bolting on a social media plan to your other marketing campaigns. It should be integrated thoughtfully with your go-to-market plan.

Which of your prospects problems are you addressing with your Tweets? You’re not just sending them new product launch plans or press releases I hope! What stage of the journey the buyer takes, from unaware and untroubled, to happy and loyal customer, does your LinkedIn forum address? Are you trying to build awareness of a problem or your firm, or are you creating a customer support forum? How does your social media strategy complement your email marketing campaign or your event marketing schedule?

Content is King! Don’t bombard your prospects and customers with irrelevant internally focused product brochures and press releases. Believe me, they don’t care! Tell them something that is relevant to them and adds value if they decide to allocate a few of their precious minutes to your words of wisdom.

Finally, which poor hapless individual is going to be saddled with the unenviable task of maintaining an active social media presence? You must decide what’s a reasonable interval to publish; daily, weekly, fortnightly? Consider some of the excellent tools available such as ping.fm and hootsuite to automate the heavy lifting.

So, is it effective? Yes…kinda.

By all means embrace social media, but please remember the discipline that is required to develop a clear go-to-market strategy, namely a blisteringly clear plan, well managed and clinically executed, requires that your social media strategy is integrated and aligned with the rest of your marketing tools.

Chris Fell is the Managing Director of g2m Solutions, and an accredited align.me Funnel Coach. To read more of his insights, go to the g2M Solutions blog.

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