Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Social Marketing Success Secrets

Social marketing can be fun, build awareness, and be lucrative ... you just need to know a few key elements to help monetize the names and best leverage the interactive relationship you're engaging in.

First, I'd like to explain the flow of information with social media marketing:

Social media marketing is 'pull' marketing. People are getting pulled to your profile page by the information you're posting. This marketing channel is passive and the profile visits are organic. Visits are also uncontrolled by the marketer/publisher. The opposite is 'push' marketing. This would be more targeted and aggressive messages such as email marketing (direct response), where you're pushing your message out to someone who's opted to receive it. These messages are more controlled by the marketer/publisher.

Some may argue that by friending or following (F/F) someone you've sort of opted in to receive their messages that are being pushed (posted) to them. I disagree, as not everyone will be on your profile page every second of the day or maybe not even for that week. Individuals follow many people and checking your page on a frequent basis is unreliable. The frequency of visits lies in control of the F/F, which makes it more 'pull' marketing. With email marketing or enews ad sponsorships, it's a more controlled environment. You're 'pushing' a direct message to your recipient. Sure you're competing with other messages in their in-box, but chances are if you have a good subject line, your email will get opened and read ... way better odds than a profile page visit.

The reason I bring this up is because although many people get excited when they see they have a 500 friends or 1,000 followers, it's more of an ego thing. It goes back feeling popular and wanted. But these F/F's aren't subscribers - that is, they're not people who've opted in to receive a free newsletter from you. Subscribers have given you their email address, and in the publishing industry, email addresses are one of the most important things you can get from a person aside from their mailing address. The email address is the foundation of your list ... of your lead generation efforts. This helps with list building and gets you leverage when coordinating JV, affiliate marketing and editorial deals with other publishers. It also adds names into your sales funnel for email marketing efforts, which ultimately, will help you monetize those names turning a subscriber into a paying customer.

Can a friend or follower be converted into a paying customer without being a subscriber?

Sure, but it's harder to bond with someone when the marketing messages are limited, passive and relying on the prospect to visit your profile page. You're also dealing with maximum character counts and other limitations as with FaceBook or Twitter that will impact the effectiveness of your marketing message.

So I like to advise clients to use social marketing as a tool to assist with, and compliment, their other online marketing efforts and not to put all their eggs in one basket. But there are things you can do to help maximize your returns with social marketing:

Bonding. The whole purpose of social media marketing is to 'connect' with like-minded individuals with a common interest. People follow or friend (F/F) someone because of a psychological reason: they feel like they're getting one step closer to their subject of interest albeit guru, celebrity, or idol. They also feel they're getting the 'real' deal: the inside scope, unedited, raw comments straight from the horse's mouth. So your goal should be to post engaging somewhat personal messages for your F/F's. Don't just upload links to promotions or newsletter issues or basically spam your F/F's. Upload thought provoking comments and interesting informational nuggets. Depending on your list size, pick a few random names a week and send them a personal message through the social media platform. Engage in a one-one-one conversation. Interaction with your F/F's will help develop and cultivate a relationship that will result in bonding. I've found success asking questions and talking to (not at) your F/F's. That's what will keep them coming back to your profile page as well as visit your website for other products you may have or to sign up for your free newsletter.

Branding and Free Advertising. Incorporate your brand (image, logo, tag line) or promotional messages either in the background of your social media profile page or with the use of text or banner ads on your social media profile page. Make the text ad or banner ad eye-catching and link to your website home page, squeeze page (name collection page), or promotional landing page (the link will be determined by your goal and message copy). FaceBook has areas on individual (as opposed to Fan pages) designated for this such as Text boxes, Notes tab, Links, and Profile Badge. You can also upload banner ads. And Twitter allows personalization via their 'Settings', 'Profile' and 'Design' tabs.

Conversion. Remember, although you have F/F's names or links to their profile messages, you don't have direct access to them in a way that will help your business bottom line. For my clients I put together a social media conversion plan, which is a strategic plan to incent F/F's to sign up for the client's newsletter, which allows for the F/F to then move to 'subscriber' status. Moving to subscriber status helps magnify the bonding efforts and also allows the individual to receive targeted messages from the client - whether it's through an auto responder series, ads in the enewsletter, or solo email marketing messages - either way, it's a more effective and expedited way to get those F/F's into your sales funnel for monetization.

Incorporating the above will help you get the most of your social marketing efforts to help grow your business. And if you read other blog posts (http://musclemarketing.blogspot.com/2010/05/you-can-measure-social-media-you-just.html), you'll now know how to measure those results through the '3 O's'.
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