People use social media. Companies as well. Increasingly. Those are facts. Despite discussions concerning the ROI of social media marketing and many questions regarding the how, what and when, it remains a fact that social media marketing exists and work, whether we debate it or not. However, social media marketing is an extremely broad concept. For example, there is an enormous difference between the using social bookmarking for SEO purposes, customer service via social media and social CRM, to name just a few. Time to look at it in another way!
Social media marketing is an umbrella concept, something that entails many forms of interaction, media and marketing. However it is not an isolated island in itself. If people today combine various channels to inform themselves and interact, it is logical that we as companies and marketers should also do this.
Cross-channel marketing is a matter of customer-centricity and requires a very fundamental knowledge of customers, prospects, fans, etc. which is amongst other reasons what we strive for with social media monitoring.
If our clients use social media so should we. But what‘s next? “Join the conversation” as everyone shouts? In reality there is no such thing like “the big conversation”. Every day millions of micro conversations take place between people all over the world. On the social Web we apparently like to call them “the conversation”.
Conversations are in the end communication. As such, conversations are “useless” from a business perspective, other of course than for the emotional satisfaction of the participants, the fun of it and so on. In business, conversations are only useful if they are about our company’s ecosystem but most of all if they are relevant and lead to value for both discussion partners. Then conversations can become customer interactions, word of mouth, feedback and even (why not) transactions.
This can only be done if social media marketing, just as more conventional forms of interactive marketing, such as e-mail, as I recently wrote in my blog, is triggered by people, fans, prospects and every interaction among and with them, in an integrated way and irrespective of the channels. Even if the triggers are “invisible” at first sight: they still come from people.
It requires data, CRM and much more to achieve this and we have to stop putting the media themselves in the centre of the social media universe but the life cycle and value chain of the client, the prospect, the fan, etc..
Just this is what makes social media marketing so fascinating! The fact that we can combine all existing communication channels people use in function of what people want!