Tag Archives: Digital Marketing

David ‘Social’ Cameron & Nick ‘SEO’ Clegg – a Digital Marketing Coalition?

Three years ago, I started a new job as an SEO copywriter with the express directive of making websites visible in search results.  36 months on, and it is now consumers who are making themselves visible online, through social networks and digital communications platform.  Is SEO dead?  Can we actually continue to make ourselves visible, when consumers choose whom they want to see – and indeed, whom they want to be seen by?  Is there any point?

The topical Gap logo debacle is surely testament to the fact that consumers are now brand owners, although my personal opinion is that this was a cleverly construed PR stunt to generate buzz around the brand.  Regardless of the intended effect, the outcome of this recent issue adds further credence to the power of social.  Consumers now own brands, and social has undoubtedly been the conduit that has made this achievable.  But social is only half of the story.

Once people are talking about your brand, where is the transaction?  Gap may well be back at the forefront of the collective consumer mind, but if a search in Google generates no results, how does the customer journey continue?

Whereas magazine readers will sit down, engage with and caress a magazine for a discernible period of time, digital customers are fleeting phantoms.  If, as digital marketers, we don’t cover all touchpoints, our potential customers will become bored, frustrated and move on – I’ve behaved exactly like that on more than one occasion.

There’s no doubt that social is now very important for digital marketers – I’d venture so far as to suggest vital.  However, we have to keep social as part of an overall digital toolkit and ensure that we use those other tools convert the transaction that social generates.

Social media may be David Cameron-esque in its relative metaphorical position of power, but make no mistake; without Nick ‘SEO’ Clegg, the digital coalition would not be anywhere as effective.

Advertisements

Social 1.0: The Bubble Has Burst.

Don’t let the title of this post fool you; by no means I am suggesting that Social Media is no longer an intrinsic part of everyday life in 2010.  What I am claiming however, is that the current ‘gold rush’ is most definitely coming to an end.  In short, we’ve moved on exponentially from the early days of Social Media and businesses are now recognising that this discipline needs to be treated as an integrated part of digital marketing strategy rather than its own, poorly organised entity.

The hedonistic heydays of 2009 – “get us a profile on every channel out there!!!” – have now subsided and ushered in a new era of caution.  Simply slapping your brand about willy-nilly on every social network imaginable is no longer acceptable practice.  After two years of Social Media marketing, we’ve finally reached the point where business leaders are begging the question ‘OK, what now? – and this is undoubtedly a good thing for Social Media, as well as digital marketers working in this discipline.

Social Media has now had enough time to generate discernible findings, reports, feedback, learnings; what works, what doesn’t.  Marketers are now able to use Social Media far more effectively for specific purposes and are planning accordingly.  A customer service tool; branding; promotions; charity; CSR; value-added; content distribution; sales: the multi-faceted possibilities that Social Media offers means that any SM marketing MUST consist of more than simply having ‘a generic Twitter page’.

So whilst this complex beast requires significant investment from digital marketing teams, this is no bad thing.  The ‘bubble’ has burst indeed – but only insofar as unaccountability goes.  As Social Media marketers, it’s our task to be more intelligent, which many have been doing already.

For brands that are approaching Social Media as part of an integrated digital marketing approach, I have no doubt that considered strategies and defined objectives will ensure a successful ROI.  For those who remain entrenched in the ‘spread it thinly and everywhere’ approach, there can only be one inevitability.  Planning, thought and strategy are now crucial to SM success.  Those not employing this are all too visible for everyone to see – and their efforts will burst along with the bubble of ‘Social 1.0’.

Foursquare Foresight: Not Enough Of It?

The days when the global Twitter stream was devoid of derogatory remarks about Foursquare is now a thing of the past.  Even heavyweight Twitter users, many of whom naturally extol the virtues of all Social Media channels, seem to jump on the anti-Foursquare bandwagon with alarming alacrity.

Why?

Well, as with many emerging technologies, it will take time to establish itself in the mainstream.  Back in February 2004, an innovative new Social Media platform with big ambitions launched, but at the time many people thought it wouldn’t work.  Six years and half a billion members later and who can imagine a world without Facebook?

Similarly, my boss has written a thoughtful blog post this week highlighting the people who queried whether computers would catch on.  Whether emails would catch on.  Whether websites would catch on.  Did they?  I’ll leave you to insert you own suitably pithy riposte here.

Social Media platforms, like any digital marketing channel, take time to grow, evolve and prove their worth.  Back in 2004, the proposal of creating a ‘page’ where your customers could ‘like’ your brand would have seemed a concept as idea as Tiger Woods’ spectacular fall from grace. But today?  Search for any blue-chip FMCG brand on Facebook and the chances are that you’ll find a polished page with heavy investment.

So how does Foursquare figure in all this?  Well, quite simply, today’s Foursquare is 2004’s Facebook.  An exciting new idea utilising the latest technology – in this case geo-mapping and location-based services (LBS) – Foursquare is nevertheless in its infancy, which for many marketers, means instant dismissal.  Despite our moniker as ‘revolutionary marketers who champion new and emerging technologies’, many of us are anything but.

So it seems, that for the moment, Foursquare will continue to receive its fair share of undue criticism.  It’s up to us, as digital marketers, to use some foresight and see how best we can exploit this new platform for our objectives – we could be looking at the new Facebook after all…

Sussed Social Media? That Don’t Make You a Marketer Mate…

Operating in the Social Media sphere in both a professional and a personal capacity, I’m coming across an increasingly prevalent number of ‘instant gurus’.  Twitter, and LinkedIn especially, seem to provide a natural home for these evangelists, all of whom purport to able to advise on Social Media marketing strategy, just because they’ve got to grips with Twitter and LinkedIn.

Well, reader beware.

At its core, Social Media is a communications channel and, naturally, different people use it to communicate in different ways.  Digital marketing is also a communications practice – but this does not mean that a ‘Social Media guru’ can advise you on productive marketing strategies for use in Social Media channels.

There’s no denying the fact that digital marketing and Social Media are becoming ever-more interrelated – they are, after all, natural bedfellows and operate within the same space.  But marketing is marketing – and no matter how many tweets you’ve sent, blog posts you’ve written, or LinkedIn groups joined, using Social Media personally doth not a marketer make.

I’m constantly shocked by the ill-informed and generic advice being banded around the Social Media sphere.  Whilst I’m nowhere near arrogant enough to claim that I’m a definitive authority on the topic, my professional use of Social Media has evolved as part of an integrated digital strategy – and it’s the digital marketing discipline that informs the Social Media strategy – not the other way round.

If you’re looking for Social Media marketing tips, some fundamental truths should serve you well.  If the advice does not have these values at its core, the chances are, you’ve come across a fly-by-night ‘guru’.  Here are my basic pointers for using Social Media as part of digital marketing strategies:

i)    Social Media is not a standalone strategy.  It’s a stunning, dynamic, exciting channel, but needs to support a wider business dynamic.  You should only use Social Media for marketing purposes if it is part of a wider, integrated digital marketing strategy.
ii)    Social Media is a communications tool.  New rules apply folks.  If you’re spreading your brand around in various channels and using different sites to promote one-way messages, you’re destined to fail.  Social Media plays by new rules – you are not in charge of a two-way conversation – you just need to engage.
iii)    You cannot control Social Media marketing.  End of.  A transparent strategy still divides opinion, but even negative conversations can be turned into positive outcomes.  If someone wants to say something bad about your brand, chances are, they’ll do it.  Be part of the conversation and ensure that you resolve these issues with your customers.

These are three very basic pieces of advice – but I hope they will help individuals looking for specific SM marketing advice to understand the difference between genuine Social Media marketing strategy and community cowboys who’ve never worked in marketing before.

The New Meerkat?

It is only extremely rare and isolated incidents when I become a man of very little words – and this is one such time. Drench, a bottled water brand in the UK, has launched a stunning new campaign featuring hamsters which can only be described as an assault on Compare the Meerkat’s ‘cutesy’ throne. Enjoy…

Why all the hang-ups on ROI?

It genuinely, genuinely amazes me that so many marketers remain sceptical when it comes to social media. ‘Not being able to measure ROI’ is an oft cited ‘reason’; however marketers subscribing to this misguided view are in reality, missing out on real value.

It’s certainly true that social media now uses considerable marketing resource. A few years ago, many businesses considered a company blog the very height of digital innovation, and perhaps ‘Literate Linda’ from accounts was left to update it once a week with news of the company raffle. These days (thankfully) have long gone and social media is now a sprawling mass of interactions across multiple platforms.

We now have brands interacting on Twitter (the undeniable darling of the social media world), talking with consumers in forums, social network sites, mobile applications – the list grows exponentially every week. Despite the advent of social media however, the doubters are right in one thing – we don’t yet have a way to measure commercial ROI – but why should this be the yardstick by which social media’s value is determined?

From a business perspective, one of the biggest benefits of social media is the fact that it allows brands to interact with their consumers. Web 2.0 has killed off the days of one-way marketing communications – consumers no longer accept being ‘talked to’; they want to be part of the conversation – which is where social media comes in. Focus on providing excellent customer service and brand experiences and this will be replicated in social media channels again and again and again.

Similarly, social media puts faces to faceless corporations. Building relationships on a human level benefits businesses enormously – how could it not? Discussions on networking sites (such as LinkedIn) allow companies to listen to what their consumers are talking about, what their concerns are, what their needs are. What makes them tick, how your business can help them.

No ROI? I beg to differ.

The times are changing. The times have changed. And for those waiting on the sidelines, still wondering whether to get involved, you’re missing a valuable trick. Yes, we’re still waiting for a way to quantify monetary ROI for social media. But sometimes marketing isn’t about money. Worrying about social media ROI can blinker you – and ensure that you miss out on something of real value.