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October 17, 2007

Leveraging A Social Media Marketing Campaign

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As I’ve already mentioned, my blood pressure was a bit heightened reading the recaps to this morning’s Effectively Leverage Social Media session. In it, Dave McClure, whom I respect very much and who is very intelligent, seemed to be advocating spamming Facebook’s News feed and tagging capabilities in order to market yourself and push content to users. He gave the example of tagging an SMX logo as "Vanessa Fox" or "Neil Patel" as a way of getting these people’s attention. As you can imagine, this quickly put people into fight mode.

Dave has since clarified his statements (via my Facebook wall, no less) but I think the following statement is worthy of another mention:

Marketing in the social networks does not equal spamming them. That is how you make your customers hate you.

When you start thinking about your social media marketing strategy, you should focus on listening to the community, understanding who they are and their value systems, and then creating content that benefits them, not you. Ask yourself what’s your purpose for entering and what you’re trying to get out of it. How much time are you going to invest? Will you have someone dedicated to advancing your social media goals? Is this person going to be an intern or someone who actually knows something about your company and its goals? As great (and cheap!) as interns are, I’d recommend the latter.

A big part to leveraging social media involves knowing where it’s appropriate to target and where you’re just asking for trouble. One of the reasons I think Dave’s comments put people into flight mode is because it looked like he was suggesting that advertisers throw out irrelevant URLs and tags on a site that most don’t even consider a marketing platform to begin with. If you ask the community, Facebook is a networking channel; it’s not a place for marketers to spam us to death. Know the difference and respect it.

In case you’re living under the same rock Susan is [Welcome! –Susan], sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are networking tools. If you want to market to me and try to get me to buy your silly product, go play in SecondLife or on MySpace. I’ll be way more receptive to your offer there. Even better, I won’t write a blog post about how absolutely clueless you are. This doesn’t mean you can’t brand yourself on sites like Facebook, it just means you have to be more subtle about it.

Ask Walmart. They gained some good press yesterday when they offered up a free Facebook gift in the form of a Walmart-branded ghost cookie. Was it silly? Yes. Did lots and lots of people pass it around to their friends? Yup. Are we talking about it today? You betcha!

At this point, I think many business owners understand the concept of having a MySpace page or creating a Facebook group in their namesake. However, that in no way qualifies as having a social media strategy. Leveraging social media entails creating something that will remain exciting and be able to hold the interest of community members. Throwing up a MySpace profile that just sits there, no matter how "pimped out" it is, isn’t going to do wonders for your site. It’s not going to make people want to interact with you. It may help you attract eyeballs, but eyeballs who gawk at you and offer nothing in return aren’t going to help you. It’s a bit like dating that way.

Marketing Pilgrim gave us a good example of leveraging social marketing media today with Evian Water Debuts in Second Life. The whole Second Life thing has long seemed crazy to me, but if you’re a marketer, it really is one of the best platforms available to you right now. I know, I was surprised too. What Evian did was create Evian-branded vending machines in the Second Life world. By buying Evian water, members can get new skin for their avatar, skin that is "more vibrant and [has] better texture". Because, you know, water makes you healthier and stuff. How’s that for a strong signal?

If you’re going to try and brand your company behind the walls of social media, you have to be smart about your attack. There are so many companies competing for users’ attention that you can’t just throw up a profile page and pray for the best. Search marketers must give users a compelling reason to pick them over the onslaught of others. You have to show them that your company has the same goals/beliefs/interests that the community does. And you can’t fake it. Your company actually has to align with their belief set. If you’re lying, they’ll know.

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One response to “Leveraging A Social Media Marketing Campaign”

  1. Dave writes:

    hi lisa -

    absolutely agree with your comments above. and again, really hope i didn’t give people the wrong impression — my examples were intended to be a bit fun & light-hearted, but *not* justification for feed-spamming irrelevant links & content. the content you share into the feed & tag with your friend’s names *still* has to be relevant to them (& ideally about them or their friends as well).

    however, one other clarification i’d like to make… i was really making the point more from an individual, rather than a company, standpoint. i must say i probably missed the mark a bit on who my audience was for the talk — i was mainly showing examples for individuals. i think in hindsight, danny may have wanted me to cover the company scenario in greater detail & my apologies if i wasn’t addressing that actor.

    realizing now i possibly should have linked to charlene li’s presentation from the Graphing Social Patterns conference we just completed last week… her thoughts on this subject are probably more advanced than my tagging & sharing commentary:
    http://www.slideshare.net/charleneli/big-brands-facebook-demographics-case-studies-best-practices

    anyway, would love to catchup sometime & shoot the breeze on these topics & others.

    take care & thanks for food for thought,

    - dave



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