Social Media Marketing—SMART Marketers Get in the Game
The social media (R)evolution continues to expand, offering marketers more new and useful techniques, innovative opportunities to communicate with customers and ways to leverage its full potential, than ever before! It’s hard not to be magnetized to a form of media that can exponentially expand reach, costs next to nothing, and is easily quantified. However, like any form of marketing, social media marketing requires strategic thought, commitment and a deep understanding in order to truly reap the benefits for your business.
Is your business in the ‘social media game’? If not, why? Should you be? Which platforms are best to use? And, if you are using social media marketing, is it really working?
Twitter—What is It?
In the September issue of Business Currents, we defined Social Media Marketing (SMM) as the utilization of social networking and user-generated content platforms to promote a product, service or content. SMM often involves creating and participating in a dialogue with the target audience, rather than forcing an advertisement upon them. SMM can also include creating and promoting viral content that is meant to be shared by users.
Twitter is the perfect example of a current mainstream viable social media marketing platform (It’s on Oprah, so therefore it must be!). According to Michael Daehn in Tweet Ideas: The Marketer’s Guide to Twitter Twitter is “…a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent, answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”
Twitter posts, or “tweets,” are limited to 140 characters or less. Consider it micro-blogging or text broadcasting forcing the Twitter marketer to concisely deliver a compelling thought, piece of news or interesting link of value. Lengthy verbose marketing speak doesn’t work with this bite-sized conversation-esque marketing tool.
New business clients may only be a tweet away. Location information is included in Twitter accounts so you can easily search for users in your town, for example, and follow them.
Why Should Your Business Care?
Twitter works in real-time and is accessible on multiple networks and devices from anywhere in the world. It’s pretty powerful to think that a breaking news or product release announcement can be broadcast globally via a mobile device, for example, to followers and fans immediately when and where it’s all taking place! Therefore, feeding exclusive company, product and/or service information via a tweet to those who have expressed interest in your company and want to follow you is a great way to acquire new customers, generate interest and support retention.
How to Get Started Using Twitter for Your Business
Setting up a Twitter account is easy and free. After you’ve created an account, you can quickly start finding friends and follow them. Twitter keeps tabs on the number of “followers” you have (who pay attention to your tweets) as well as the number of “friends” you have, (people you are following). You can protect your tweets for privacy, get notifications via email, use Twitter on your cell phone, and get pretty crazy with advanced features. One great advanced feature enables you to schedule and/or post a tweet via an RSS feed. For example, you can set up your account so a tweet is made each time you post a new entry to your blog-site. As time is money, this type of syndication allows you to enter content into your social media mix once and distribute that across multiple platforms. It’s great for real estate agents, media companies, and other super-bloggers.
Building an audience means everything for SMART Marketers using Twitter. The more people you follow, the more followers you’re likely to get. Mojave Interactive’s Twitter Guide offers these useful recommendations:
After you’ve followed people you found through your email contacts, the next step is to look for people in your field. Search for major players in your industry using the “Find People” function, then look at the lists of people following them.
For example, if you’re in the travel industry, go to the JetBlue Twitter feed. Add the list of people who are following JetBlue’s updates. These followers already show interest in your industry and by adding them, you are widening your potential client spectrum. Your tweets will reach the right audience—people who like to travel.
You can use Twitter for several marketing objectives such as developing a brand, managing customer relationships and generating market research. Here are a few examples:
– Comcast has successfully used Twitter to interact with customers directly. Frank Eliason, Director of Customer Care for the company, has personally resolved thousands of complaints via the social media platform. In December 2008, he celebrated the handling of his 22,000th tweet. Other companies are following Comcast’s lead.
– JetBlue offers promotions and useful travel tips to generate new customers, drive travel sales and support advocacy
– Kogi BBQ lets people know where their taco truck is going to be, for a delicious lunch or dinner, by announcing it on Twitter. Wherever they go, the message is always the same: If you think this food is awesome, find us on Twitter. Kogi has quickly created a cult following and a unique culture for their brand.
Remember, Twitter is about simple conversations with real people. Traditional marketing’s one-way print advertisement and/or press release copy is different from this form of media. Be sensitive and cater to Twitter’s two-way dialog functionality and immediacy. Your customers expect interaction with you and each other vs. a brand. Ask questions. Be personable. Actively listen to customers. Be particularly aware that not every customer has or will have good things to say about you. If you really want to know what people are saying about your company, product/service and/or brand, type that name into the search function. Once you’ve identified who’s praising (or cursing) you, you can immediately get engaged in those conversations.
Ask a question about a specific feature and or benefit you’re considering or, better yet, search competitors’ tweets for specific information about customer’s likes and dislikes and you may very well have the low-cost, immediate customer data you need for that product viability meeting on Monday.
Know the rules of the Twitter community. Watch how other companies use it and interact with customers. Participate. Ask for help.
Commit to it. Like the example of Comcast, if you do not have enough time to administer your Twitter account consistently, designate someone else in the company to do it for you. That person should be someone who knows which conversations are important enough to escalate throughout the company and through which departments.
Reward your followers. Give them inside information like a secret product announcement or private showing. Make them feel exclusive and “in the know.” Many would say that social media marketing is best used to support advocacy—advocacy for your company, your products and you. By rewarding your followers, you can create more buzz than you might have ever thought possible.
Make Twitter a part of your integrated marketing mix. Have it work alongside your website and other forms of marketing. Be sure to establish goals, track success and use metrics for benchmarking. Whether it’s new customer acquisition, retention, referral marketing, brand development or increasing market share, approach your use of Twitter marketing with the same level of planning and execution as you would with other forms.
Use Twitter effectively and you will experience a deeper level of engagement with new and prospective customers and increased loyalty with your brand. Follow me at http://twitter.com/angbiasi
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Naples, FL. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and has taught Marketing at New York University for over five years. For more information or to learn more, visit www.smartmarketingllc.com or call 239.963.9396.
1. Reisner, Rebecca, “Comcast’s Twitter ManFor Frank Eliason, managing the cable giant’s customer service department means tweeting strategically,” Business Week Management, January 13, 2009.
2. Daehn, Michael, “Tweet Ideas: The Marketer’s Guide to Twitter,” 2009.
3. Needleman, Rafe, “Newbie’s Guide to Twitter,” Webware, March 15, 2007.
4. Eleven Marketing, “Add Twitter to your Internet Marketing Toolbox: Using Social Network Websites for Social Media Marketing Campaigns,” September 25, 2007.
5. Nutter, Blaise, “5 Twitter marketing experiments,” iMedia Connection, May 20 2009.
6. Hussain, Shahid, “Guide to Twitter for Marketers,” Tech Industry, May 28, 2009.