are essentially four different types of return that you can expect from a
social media marketing campaign: links, mindshare/branding, sales and
Below, a look at each type of return and how you can tap
into it, depending on your goals.
Using social media for
is most popular within the SEO community, and for good reason. Using
social news sites as a platform to spread your content (linkbait) can
effectively produce hundreds or thousands of new inbound links to your site.
Compare that with paying or begging for links, and you can quickly see why
linkbaiting is going mainstream, at least within our community.
The objective here is to produce a piece of remarkable content that will
spread virally and naturally collect links. The big social news sites already
have millions of users, so the idea is to leverage these sites to get your story
popular enough so that it’s exposed to their user base. A popular piece of
content on these sites is seen by tens of thousands of hungry bloggers looking
for stories to blog about.
Sites that are best for building link are Digg,
Netscape, and Reddit (see
Forget ABCs – The Social
Media Alphabet Is DNRS and
More Letters Of The
Social Media Alphabet to learn more about these sites and others mentioned
Mindshare & Branding
Social media marketing goes beyond just traffic and links. It is also great
for creating mindshare, branding initiatives, and brand awareness. It doesn’t
matter if you have a new brand or one that is well established, using social
media can help build or strengthen it.
Social media is also part of a brand experience when users interact in these
channels. If the experience is positive, high-energy, interesting or funny, all
of these elements will support a unique brand experience and support ongoing
initiatives in this area. Positive or negative experiences here can really have
an impact on a brand.
A few examples of positive experiences include funny videos, useful content,
flash games, and contests based on user participation. Each of these methods
help engage a deeper dialogue or interaction with the consumer and can help get
closer to the customer.
The bottom line for many marketing campaigns is to bring an increase in
sales. Sometimes this is done directly and sometimes it is a very indirect
process. It is very hard to create a social media marketing campaign that will
result in direct sales. This is because you’re reaching consumers in a
non-purchasing stage of the cycle. It contrasts from standard SEO where
consumers are looking for what you’re selling and at the point of purchase
already. Social media is less intrusive, and part of the reason people engage is
because there’s more there than just a selling message. Any content piece with a
strong selling message will not be received well or successful.
The best way to generate sales through social media is to show how good your
product is in a creative way and compelling way.
Blendtec, for example, has created a campaign called
Will it Blend?, where they take
various consumer items that you would think are impossible to blend and they
blend them. This shows off their product is in a way that is compelling for the
consumer to watch. Since the launch of the campaign in November, sales for the
company have quadrupled.
Sites that are best for direct sales are MySpace, YouTube, or any highly
targeted social site.
There are a lot of benefits to interacting with your customers through social
media. Some of these include improving products or services, establishing trust,
being viewed as the authority in your space and creating evangelists.
The most common form of customer interaction in social media is done through
blogging. With a blog, your goal should be to establish an open dialogue with
your customers. This means that should allow comments on the blog, and you
should also be participating on other relevant blogs.
Blogging is not the only way to interact with your customers in social media.
Consider reaching out to them in the communities where they hang out but be sure
tread lightly as they can very easily have the opposite effect you are hoping
for. Remember, social media is somewhere that consumers feel safe from
marketers, so you need to have the right approach.
Another strategy is to build white label social media sites for your
customers with topics focused around your brand or industry. Examples of these
include: Guitar Center’s King of the
Blues, Dell’s IdeaStorm and
My Barack Obama.
These are all breakdowns for some of the ways social media marketing can be
effective today. The environment is still evolving and growing. As we see more
participation in different ways, the landscape will pose even more opportunity
for marketing. I may not have covered everything here. Are there any other
positive outcomes that have resulted from a social media marketing campaign that
you can think of? Please comment below!
Cameron Olthuis is
director of marketing and design for ACS and
writes regularly on social media issues through the company’s blog,
Pronet Advertising. The
Get Social column appears Tuesdays at
Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.