Friday, October 30, 2009

Social Media Campaigns Part 1

Do you know the saying, "Doctors make the worst patients"?
Well, this Internet Marketer has been so busy marketing as of late, that I fear I haven't set a very good example for my readers and have neglected to update my blog in some time.

Many of you know that I am the Marketing Director for the Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire.
The Faire will be held in Tavares, Florida November 5-8 of this year so the last month or so found me engaged in dedicated, focused, target marketing. The Faire doesn't appeal just to one demographic. We actually have several, very distinct groups that we market to. These groups are varied in their interests and activities and they aren't all reached via the same communication tools, so it has been both challenging and rewarding to research where to find these individuals and how to best communicate with them.

I am happy to report that if advance online ticket sales for the Faire are any indication, we will have record-breaking attendance this year. I believe strongly that this increase is due to our efforts to establish and maintain a strong presence on social media sites and to frequently monitor them to respond to comments, answer questions and correct misinformation when necessary.

Curious as to what we did? Wondering if you can achieve the same results? While YMMV based on a number of different factors, following these guidelines can help your social media campaign get off to a great start:

1) Set goals

A lot of companies feel pressured to get on the social media bandwagon and don't stop to develop a strategy before diving in. What are you hoping to achieve from having a social media presence? Do you understand the differences and purposes between Twitter and Facebook? What about LinkedIn and MySpace? Do you need to be on ALL of them? How much time do you realistically have to monitor the conversation on these sites?

2) Spam much?

The old model of advertising is based on interruption. TV commercials interrupt your favorite show. Print ads interrupt your reading. Radio ads interrupt your music.
"Buy me!", They would shout. "I'm great. I'm the best. I'm better than the competitor because I ______."

In a word association study performed recently, do you know what the number one word was that people associated with the word "advertising"? It was the word "false".

The social media generation doesn't take kindly to the use of these methods anymore. They don't have to put up with interruption. They can DVR their favorite shows and fast forward through the commercials. They can listen to music all day long via Internet radio or iTunes and never have to hear a single radio ad.
If your intention is to log onto social media sites and talk AT your customers instead of WITH them, please save yourself the trouble and don't bother.
They will revolt. They will accuse you of spamming them (sending them unwanted messages) and they will block you and shut you out of their lives forever.

The primary value of social media is relational, NOT transactional!

Can you profit from having an online presence? Absolutely. Can you enjoy a large ROI on your social media investment? No question.
But you can't do it using the old methods.

3) Find the Influencers

Did you know that there is a social media site designed just for moms? How about one designed exclusively for senior citizens? African Americans? Ren Faire Geeks like me?
I read so often abou the supposed importance of Ashton Kutcher having over a million Twitter followers and what an "influence" he has as a result of those numbers. Ashton has a wide audience. If you could catch his ear and ask him to tweet about your company, that would certainly help build awareness- but it wouldn't necessarily result in a huge increase in sales. If however, you found an individual with say, only 300 followers, but every last one of those followers were positively RABID about the type of product you sold, you could easily sell more via that person's influence than Ashton's.
Find your target audience's influencers. Partner with them. Repeat.

More ideas and tips in Part II!