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Is there a formula that tells you if it’s time for your brand to engage in social media marketing?
By Kevin McIntosh
If you know your audience is online and you’re wondering if social media marketing is for you, here are 10 questions you might ask yourself to see if you’re ready for the social media marketing journey.
1. Am I ready to participate in conversations with my audience even if the conversations aren’t aimed at driving an immediate sale?
Social media marketing differs in traditional marketing in that it’s less about “selling” and more about building relationships through online conversations and sharing of information. You’ll need to accept this truth if you want to increase your chances for success with social media marketing. The good news is, building relationships means building trust. And building trust with customers is more important than ever.
2. Am I ready to to let my audience have more and more control of my brand?
Once your brand is out there, you give up control. People can comment on it, and dice and slice your content anyway they want. However, that can be a good thing. In the process, what you learn can help you push your brand where it needs to go to be more successful. And the truth is, it’s already out of your control. People may be doing all of the above already. It’s just that with social media marketing, you’ll be aware of it.
3. Am I ready to listen to the opinions and ideas of my audience to truly learn from them and in that process, actually let their ideas impact my product / service?
Related to question number 2. If you’re learning from your audience, are you willing to implement what you learn into your marketing or operations to make improvements that better fit audience trends? The ultimate result is that you’ll create brand advocates who become your virtual marketing and PR team, telling others about your brand.
4. Can I see value in any other metrics other than actual sales, as long as the metrics indicate a trend of people moving closer to the sale?
For example, can you see the ROI in changing an influencer’s sentiment about your brand? As stated in question 1, conversations in social media shouldn’t be aimed at making an immediate sale. So your metrics reports may show encouraging data that indicates that more and more people are moving closer to the sale, but just haven’t fully converted. Depending on what you’re selling, the process can take time. But with social media monitoring and other tools, you can measure results to see what impact your efforts are making before the sale and to see if you’re moving closer to that objective.
5. Am I OK with making mistakes and learning from them?
A while back, I was watching an online presentation by Charlotte Li of Forrester Research and author of the social media book, Groundswell. She made it clear that in social media marketing, you will make mistakes. I’ll add that the truth is, mistakes are made in all forms of marketing. But what makes social media marketing different is that your audience can easily remind you and others of your mistakes. In other words, if you posted some of your promotional materials online for viewers to comment on, you’d likely hear the truth that your promotional ideas may not be all that great. Still, when you use social media marketing to let your audience guide your marketing, the mistakes can still be minimal.
6. Am I ready to devote resources (i.e. employees, time and money) to a continual social media marketing program for at least an extended trial period?
Done correctly, social media marketing can be time intensive. However, advantages like no costs for media and the value of leveraging online word-of-mouth to your advantage can be well worth the time required.
7. Am I ready to think about social media strategically, versus simply looking at all the cool, shiny tools?
If you simply focus on something like, “Setting up a Facebook page” or posting a YouTube video, you’ll likely be disappointed with the results. Social media is a strategic process that uses tools to accomplish specific objectives. The good thing though, is that there is a method to the madness.
8. Do I appreciate the value of identifying and engaging with a single person who can influence dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people in their purchase and brand behavior?
Because of the exponential power of influence, 10 pairs of eyeballs looking at your content in a social media context can have a lot more impact than 100 pairs of eyeballs looking at your content in other marketing channels.
9. Do I appreciate the value of being able to change attitudes and beliefs about my brand?
Sometimes, simply changing the attitudes and beliefs of an audience can be the biggest hurdle in converting them into customers. Social media marketing can be a great way to do that simply because you can often pinpoint those with the wrong attitudes and beliefs and with social media, you can engage with them before they spread their false ideas to others.
10. Do I believe that the cost of NOT participating in social media is greater than the cost of participating in social media?
Or to put it another way, is the cost of letting people say whatever they want about your brand online greater than the cost of defending your brand? Is the cost of learning what it would take to get people to spread the word about your brand greater than the cost of continuing to use traditional paid media?
Those are some of the more important questions I think marketers should consider when trying to decide if they’re ready for social media marketing. Any other questions you can think of?
Kevin McIntosh lives in Nashville and has worked on the marketing campaigns of over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. His workshop, “The Social Media Marketing Journey” shows companies how to use social media marketing to accomplish a wide range of objectives.
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