Social media marketing is somewhat of a an oxymoron. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that marketing can be achieved through social mediums. Many companies of successfully marketed using social media (see examples).
For most people, social networks are about being social in a relaxing environment. For example, my use of Facebook is mainly about connecting with family and friends. While I use Twitter to connect with with industry colleagues and follow trends, etc.
No matter what use a social network has for an individual, marketing efforts should be ‘soft’ and not blatant marketing. How do you feel when a telemarketer intrudes on your dinner hour, which is a social time for your family, trying to sell you insurance or some other product you don’t need? The same goes for blatent marketing in social media.
The folks at People like to sharehave a post called Digital and Marketing. They talk about the difference between traditional marketing and social media marketing:
It’s been said that the difference between normal marketing and social media marketing is that the first is paid media, whereas the second is earned media.
I’ve always been of the opinion about anything in life that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This can be applied directly social media marketing. The picture above shows three steps in social media marketing:
The Engage stage is critical to reach the Convert stage. Engaging your audience is not sending out promos for your school or event. Instead of sending out tweets or status updates promoting a program at your college/university, focus on developing and cultivating relationships with potential students, donors, alumni, etc. and the rest will follow.
In closing, I need to provide context to my statement that social media marketing is an oxymoron. I believe that to be an effective marketing is social network, the method of marketing needs to be softer and less obvious marketing. Engage your audience though conversations and the marketing will flow naturally.
Additional Notes (added April 2, 2009)
Through Twitter I was directed to a recent blog post by Chris Brogan. I thought the information was so relevant to my post on social media marketing that I needed to link to his post and provide a little snippet here:
There are ways to get your ideas across such that it’s palatable to your audience and/or to a community. Some of them work well for everyone. Others require a higher degree of trust first. Here’s some of what’s usually missing when people explain to you that social media is this great place for marketing and business communications. They forget to tell you that there’s work involved in establishing trust, but we can get there.
In Chris’ post he goes on to offer 10 Ways to Build Relationships Before You Ask for Anything
Comment on and reply to other people’s observations, posts, and ideas. (Sometimes, just retweeting someone’s status message in Twitter is a gesture that matters to people.)
Share good information freely, such as pointing to great blog posts or articles.
Make virtual introductions when you see obvious like-minded people who could do to know each other.
Create useful media like blog posts or ebooks or videos that help people
For the rest of the list, read Chris’ blog post. You didn’t think I would put his entire list here did you? Chris’ article is chalked full of useful information and I wouldn’t be doing you justice if I quoted it all here. You need to read his article. But don’t forget to come back here </grin>
Can marketing in social networks be successfully achieved? Do you think that blatant marketing is social networks is similar to telemarketers call you at dinner? Please share your thoughts.