John E. Fike Copywriting Services; Copy, Content & Custom Publications for Companies Who Make Life Worth Living

Social Media: Answered Prayer for Marketers?

I'm finding social media marketing to be an interesting animal in the marketing kingdom. It actually allows marketers to do what they've always wanted to do: engage the customer in conversation. Of course the end goal of the marketer's conversation is to sell goods and services. But to achieve that, the marketer needs to understand the customers needs, wants and aspirations.

Until now, the marketer could only guess at his customers' needs, wants and aspirations. Surveys, test runs, and other tools helped the marketer get as close as possible to knowing those things, but there was still a lot of guessing going on.

Now that social media has come along, the marketer no longer needs to guess. He (or she) can go out and find out exactly what people are thinking by what they say to each other and what they say to the marketer. Using Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other platforms, the marketer can search out and find people who are talking about his product or service or about issues that his product or service addresses. He then has the opportunity to make an appeal to those people in the context of problems they are facing and show how his product or service provides a solution.

The beauty of it is that by engaging in this conversation the marketer is not only appealing to the handful of people that he is talking to directly, but also to all the people connected to those people--those who follow their tweets or posts. And those people can also share it with all the people they are connected with if they find it helpful or interesting. So it combines the personal conversation with a sort of mass media distribution. It's far more efficient and effective than traditional mass media or mass mailing advertising in which the marketer hopes he's connecting with the customer but doesn't know for sure until the sale is made.

One of the famed copywriter of marketing lore (I forget which one at the moment) said sales and ad copy should join the customer in the conversation he or she is already having. With social media marketing you really get an opportunity to do that. Additionally, you have the opportunity to customize your message to each conversation--something that cannot be achieved to the same extent through traditional advertising venues.

However there are marketers that don't understand that the key value of social media marketing is the conversation. They're trying to use social media, but they treat it like television or radio. Every tweet or post is a plea to buy from them. Or they send out link after link hoping enough people will check their profile or web site and eventually buy from them.

Let's put this as plain as possible: The value of social media in marketing is engaging the customer in CONVERSATION.

Conversation is an interaction--a give and take exchange of information and opinion. You have to go out and look for the conversations. No one signs up for Twitter or Facebook in order to get a stream of advertisements. Search for people and groups who are having conversations about your product or a topic related to your product. When you join the conversation, add value to it. Don't just show up and billboard your business. Answer and ask questions. Engage them. It may seem like a waste of time to engage one or two people in a conversation that touches your business, but there are hundreds or thousands of others who are witness to that conversation.

The more conversations you engage in, the more people will understand your expertise and come looking for you when they need your product or service.

So get out there and have some conversations.

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posted by John E Fike @ 8:20 AM, ,