Lately, I have been reading posts and questions from people (marketers and managers) asking if social media is really a good strategy to bring business and fresh leads. Well, I have a straightforward answer: YES!
I understand why some managers keep asking if it worth to invest on Social Media Marketing, they do not fully understand how these new channels work and that the “all mighty” ROI (Return on Investment) is not applicable. Although, Social Media Marketing does not have instantaneous effects and results, with the right approach it helps increasing brand awareness, stimulating commercial activity and increasing sales (prospects, leads…) with a smaller budget.
In order to leverage on Social Media it is important first understand the company’s business strategy, the way it goes to the market and only after that define the marketing strategy (and decide the weight Social Media Marketing will have in the overall marketing strategy). Social Media is based on collaboration, interaction and communication therefore, content is key. I must say that free (quality) content sells and help selling. That way content should be an important part of social media marketing being supported by a clear plan and strategy.
Making a long story short, Marketing helps a company going to the market well prepared, with the right set of tactics and an action plan. Based on the overall business strategy and a strong market study it helps designing the business model and defining all the steps needed to efficiently reach the market. The Marketing department is normally responsible or at least co-responsible for making the market study (a 360º degree analysis), defining the customer value proposition, designing the product for a specific market, segment and target the customers, define the market positioning, measuring the customer’s life-time value with loyalty strategies, structuring the pricing model, choosing the distribution channels and the best way to promote the product. These steps must be aligned and translating the overall business strategy and company’s mission. After this attempt to explain general marketing activities and objectives (sorry if I miss something) in reality they change (different approaches or activities) from company to company making that way compulsory an in-depth analysis with the process and activities mapped from production to market, only that way and similarly to a value chain analysis a manager along with the marketer can choose the most interesting areas to impact and the tactics to use. Social Media can help almost everywhere along the process though different companies will have different strategies and tactics with more or less success. It is really important that marketers and managers understand that there is no right recipes only good analysis in order to define feasible objectives aligned and translating the overall business strategy. However, I do believe that business strategy can be discussed with an eye on how to market and also using different competences and skills as differentiation factors.
A successful Marketing plan should align and translate business strategies into marketing objectives and tactics. After this, a strong market and internal (process from production to market) analysis should be done in order to identify the best and more adequate (regarding the situation and analysis) actions and channels to be used. In the end the plan will be divided in traditional (outbound) and non-traditional (Inbound and social media) marketing (concepts concerning traditional and non-traditional marketing are still blur). Concerning non-traditional and social media marketing content, communication, collaboration and interaction are crucial to success. I strongly believe that to succeed on Social Media a company must manage the following triangle: content, audience (communities) and right vehicle (channel , e.g.: Facebook, MySpace…). “Free content sells” but only if you have a strategy and chose the right vehicle (channels) to target the chosen audience (built communities with actual or potential customers or).