Is Your Social Media Marketing Social Or Just Marketing?

Social Media Marketing is a hot topic these days, yet most online marketers and especially offline companies and retailers have difficulty gaining any traction from their social media marketing activities. One of the biggest issues is forgetting that SMM is an interactive form of advertising…

This can be especially difficult for offline companies and retailers, as interactive advertising has never been a part of their advertising or marketing mix until the last few years. Before that they ran their radio and TV commercials, placed their print ads in newspapers and magazines, printed their flyers and mailed them out. Direct contact with customers and prospects was left to the front line sales staff while marketing departments stayed hands off, distant from the public. But that’s all changed now, as it’s much safer to have your head-office marketing team handle social media marketing instead of a piecemeal presence by various departments or retail locations.

Experienced online marketers may have an advantage as they’ve been using e-mail, e-zines and blogs for a lot of their advertising activities, all of which already has an interactive aspect to it. Yet in practice, many are making the same mistakes the neophytes are – while this group know what to do, they’re still not putting in a concentrated effort to master SMM.

The key to success on interactive web properties like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and FriendFeed is the SOCIAL aspect. Ask any person pushing a product or anyone promoting an offline business online and they’ll tell you they use social media – but the truth is they just post there. Next ask them how often they hit the +1 on Google or ‘Like’ button on Facebook, and especially how often they comment on other people’s posts and you’ll be met with a blank stare or a myriad of excuses most times.

To succeed in your social media marketing you need to engage your audience and interact with both your prospects AND the industry leaders in your niche. Both on your own pages and in the appropriate groups on Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn, be friendly, be supportive and truly helpful. As a marketer you already realize people always prefer to deal with people they know, so use your social media efforts to make real connections and to keep your name and your brand, top of mind for your prospects. Do the same on Twitter using replies and retweets, and don’t forget to thank those who retweet your tweets. Use the ‘comments’ and ‘share’ features on LinkedIn, Pinterest and FriendFeed the same way.

Be careful with your time, though – social media sites can easily become a ‘time sponge’ that stops you from getting everything else done. Stop by them at the start of your workday and spend 15 or 20 minutes catching up on what went on while you were absent, then shut them down. Another 10 minutes at lunchtime and 10 minutes at the end of the day & you’re covered. Unless you’re using the social media sites for customer service, there’s no reason to leave the sites open all day in various browser tabs – they’ll just distract you.

In short, think of the sites like your ‘club’ or the golf course – you’re there to have fun, socialize and hopefully put together some big deals. You don’t get business at the club or on the course from the people you ignore, and it’s the same with social media marketing.