Social Media Marketing All-in-One For Dummies
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Many different factors can make or break a social media marketing campaign, and sometimes it’s even just a matter of luck. But four rules matter above all else when it comes to SMM campaigns. These rules don’t always apply to other forms of marketing. Pay attention to them, and make sure that your SMM campaign abides by these.

Be authentic

Authenticity is a tricky word. It’s tricky because it’s overused in the context of social media. Everybody talks about being authentic when marketing in the social media realm, but what that means is rarely explained. To spell it out, authenticity is being honest, transparent, and true to the values of the brand: It’s as simple as that.

Here are some examples:

  • When you set up a blog as part of your campaign, make sure that you’re using your own voice.

    Don’t outsource the publishing of content to a third party or to your PR team. If you have to, make sure that the writer accurately identifies himself as contributing on your behalf. George Colony’s blog The Counterintuitive CEO is a great example. The blog is written in the first person by Forrester’s chief executive officer, George Colony. There’s no doubt that he is the writer.

  • When you’re publishing your thoughts and opinions or simply sharing information, don’t do so anonymously.

    In the world of social media, your consumers don’t relate to and care about brands as much as they care about the people behind them. People build relationships with each other, not with anonymous brands. Let your customers know who is behind the voice blogging, tweeting, or running the contest on Facebook. You’re not authentic if your customers don’t know who you are.

  • Learn from the community and respond to its feedback.

    A key part of being authentic is telling your customers the way it really is, hearing their feedback (both positive and negative), and being willing to respond to it. It’s no use participating in the social realm if you don’t respond to commentary or feedback. If you’re worried about not having the time to respond, consider not participating at all.

  • Be humane in your approach.

    It is easy to forget that for every comment and every unique visitor, there’s an actual person somewhere in the world. Make sure that you participate with consideration and with the same respect that you’d reserve for someone you’re talking to face to face.

For more information on authenticity as it applies to word-of-mouth marketing and social media marketing, visit the Word of Mouth Marketing Association website and review its ethics code.

Operate on a quid pro quo basis

For all the altruism associated with the social web, it’s easy to forget that it operates on the premise of quid pro quo. People are generally good, but most people expect something in return if they’re giving you their time. As you develop an SMM campaign in which you’ll be demanding your customers’ attention (and often a lot more than that), think about the possible quid pro quo.

Are you giving enough back in exchange? If you’re not giving something back, your customers won’t participate. They’ll simply ignore you. The social web is littered with marketing campaign failures. These campaigns assumed that just by putting a banner advertisement in front of customers, they would achieve their objectives.

Much better is the example of an SMM campaign that provided a strong quid pro quo for its audiences and was highlighted by Ad Age. Target ran a marketing campaign in the summer of 2014, through which it donated millions of dollars to the Kids In Need Foundation by contributing money for each Up & Up school supply purchased during a specific time period in the summer.

The campaign was launched and promoted extensively through social media, which served as the anchor to the entire marketing campaign. This was an SMM campaign that encouraged the consumer to purchase a particular product by tying the purchase to a cause and then motivated him to share his experience and encourage others to participate in that fashion.

Give participants equal status

Many marketing campaigns are designed to make the consumer feel special — more special than everyone else around them. That’s a good thing. They feel special, and they end up having favorable feelings for your product and go out and buy it. Apple and Harley-Davidson are two brands that personify this philosophy: They make their customers feel special and different from everyone else.

That’s wonderful, but it doesn’t apply to the SMM realm in the same way. People across the social web like to believe that they’re as special and as unique as the next person, as they should. If someone is doing something special, others want to do that as well. That’s human nature, and the social web encourages behavior through the voyeurism it allows for.

Let go of the campaign

By virtue of starting the campaign, you probably feel that it is your responsibility to moderate and shape it. That doesn’t have to be the case. Successful SMM campaigns are the ones in which the brand advocates take the campaign in new directions. As you develop the campaign, think of yourself as a participant and not just the owner of the campaign.

You make better decisions regarding its evolution that way, and by letting go, you allow others to take it in new and much amplified directions. And as always, remember that your consumers will be in control of the campaign. That’s what makes social media marketing different. However, you will always be in control of your own response to the consumer participation, and that always presents exciting opportunities.

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