So now that you have made it through the first 2 parts of this topic I would hope that it is now very clear that the way of doing business has completely changed and ignoring that fact WILL have profound and negative repercussions. The only thing that is not certain is when these effects will be felt on your company.
Social media is NOT the exclusive playpen for people with too much time on their hands anymore. Very serious marketing is happening on these channels and being effective beyond any expectations that could have been foreseen. Shea Bennett posting on Mediabistro.com posted a very compelling infographic showing the incredible power and growth of serious social marketing done properly, just look at the number reported by IBM (one of the most conservative companies in the world)….400% SALES GROWTH in the first quarter after implementing a pilot social selling program!!
These numbers are not unique, I have seen analytic reports showing a direct correlation between growth of companies and how vested they are in social marketing initiatives. What this means is the fastest growing companies are using almost twice as much social marketing as companies that aren’t doing so well, furthermore, the rate of growth is directly proportional to the investment rates in social media (effort and money). So as investment increased, growth increased in linear relationship.
So how can any reasonable company leadership ignore the focused attention of HUGE audiences gathering in numbers that truly are beyond comprehension? Comscore.com just reported that the latest entry into the social market arena “Pinterest” crossed the 10 million unique visitor mark faster than any standalone site in history and last month had almost 20K unique visitors! There is a reason why companies with vision are starting to invest heavily in exposure through social media.
As I was creating the graphic above I realized there is another less glamorous statistic involved and it’s the fact that the socio-verse (social universe) is growing at the same rate as capital expended in it. That is to say, as more and more money moves into this area more players are drawn into it to capitalize on this opportunity. Because of this, marketing complexity increases at the same pace.
In the early days companies would just pay to track which site had been the one to refer a unique hit to the company’s website. This was not adequate as it did not pinpoint the actual reason of how and why a user arrived at the end site. The true conversion factor may have been 2-3 levels of interaction prior to the last hit.
For example, say Car Company A notices the fact that a huge generator of unique visitors to its site is Tire Company B. The early assumptions were to pay Tire Company B to place Car Company A banners all over its site in hopes of driving up customer conversions to Car Company A. This method did not pay off and led to a decline in web based advertising.
The problem was the marketers who were used to the more traditional forms of marketing had no background in hierarchical web based hit structures and were not equipped to the task. In the example above the marketers at Car Company A did not dig deep enough to realize maybe a couple of levels further down was a massive forum of fans of cars made by Car Company A, who by chance, would also visit Tire Company B which then fed them to the site for Car Company A. Car Company A should have instead invested in becoming part of the car forum which would have attracted influential eyes which could have markedly increased sales by talking up the new products manufactured by Car Company A.
The most effective areas for marketing interaction with prospectives is at these active social hubs where like minded people gather and discuss your products. These could be forums, chat rooms or more likely now # tags on Twitter. To sum up the example above the marketers at Car Company A would now interact on twitter.com/#carcompanya.
By now you should understand the problem at hand………..
PROBLEM: How does marketing at a company locate where the effective hubs/hit generators are? Is traffic at these hubs the most important metric for your decision making or could it be a very influential voice that is “followed” by people in these hubs and if so how do you identify him/her? What are the factors driving users to make the final step to conversion and how do you most efficiently spend capitol to influence them?
The graphic above though confusing really does represent the current environment that has to be navigated effectively to really super-charge your efforts. The yellow brick road to spectacular growth will be a bunch of zigs and zags and even up and down (really is a 3D matrix) and what makes it really complex is it is different for each industry. There is no magic bullet that you fire and forget. Just opening a Twitter account with your company name, though a start, is just that…a start. That step is the toe in the water but you are far from swimming.
It is amazing to me how at this time in history when marketing talent is the most desperately needed companies are laying off marketers and investing in even more sales initiatives! This makes no sense. Sales is in charge of convincing the conversions that the value of the offering created and exposed by marketing is greater than the price so that the sale is made. How do you expect to close the deal if you don’t really even know where all the potentials are? The new social/viral techniques not only point to where they are but will actually draw the customers to you. Instead of spending massive amounts of capital going to the prospects, spending wisely in creative marketers will not only bring the customers to your door but convert them into your sales staff! They then go out into the world and tell their friends to buy your products and then they tell their friends and they……………classic viral behavior!
Now, back to the problem. How does a company map, pave, and navigate the yellow brick road. As I stated there is no recipe to follow here. There are a bunch of ingredients and some tools but most of all what is required is the skill and experience of the staff in the kitchen, who in this case, is the marketing staff. It will be their job to identify what needs to be created, purchase the right tools and ingredients for the job, develop a recipe, and bake. They will then be in charge of figuring out if the customers liked the product, are they talking about it (good or bad) and where are they talking about it, in order to get involved in the discussion. This will allow the staff to return to the kitchen and tweak the recipe for the next batch.
The process outlined above is an ongoing process that SHOULD NEVER end. Much like a restaurant can’t just create one dish and walk away (if it hopes to survive) neither should that be your marketing initiative. The companies that are succeeding are those that are nimble, aggressive and most of all creative! Don’t let your competitor be the one to innovate and bake better than you do….find the talent, work with them to formulate proper initiatives, implement them and follow them up.
Next we will discuss some of the tools and ingredients required in your “kitchen”