Social media is an increasingly widespread tactic to achieve marketing goals. But, like a hammer, its only good at some things and to be effective social media needs to be part of a larger marketing strategy that uses other tactics, as well. Integrating across these marketing tactics is termed Integrated Marketing Communications. But, marketing strategy goes beyond simple communication strategies, such as social media marketing, advertising, and promotion. Marketing strategy combines these communication strategies with other marketing tools to reach organizational goals.
Today, we’ll focus on integrating social media marketing with other communication tactics and in later posts, we’ll focus on building overall marketing strategy combining various elements of the marketing mix.
Elements of Communication Strategy
Classically, we talk about:
- Advertising – which consists of media including social networks, broadcast media, internet marketing, and print media.
- Promotion – consists of contests, coupons, discounts, promotional items, sponsorships, etc.
- Public Relations – which is unpaid advertising through media. Social media marketing might fit into this category, as well.
- Personal Selling – which involves using trained sales agents to promote the firms products and services.
Because the preferred goal is to coordinate across these efforts, most communication strategies consist of combinations rather than individual elements.
This gives us our first important aspect of social media marketing
Social media marketing is most effective when combined with other communications strategies, rather than being used in isolation.
For instance, using your print advertising to encourage fanning on Facebook would be an example of combining across social media and other advertising. However, this is not a particularly valuable way to combine social media with other elements to create an effective marketing strategy.
Integrating Social Media
The overriding principle of integrating social media into your marketing strategy is to use the right tool for the right task — like a hammer works a lot better to nail something than to turn a screw. So, what does social media do well:
- Build community and relationships
- Build credibility and trust
- Harness the power of word of mouth
- Create awareness
- Share information
By the same token, social media is not so good at:
- Public Relations
- Sales, although, that might be changing
That’s why social media should be combined with other communication strategies to optimize its effectiveness. Here are some ways to integrate social media effectively with other marketing strategies.
- Contests are particularly effective in social media because they encourage sharing among members of a social network. Supporting these contests through traditional advertising and PR are also proven marketing strategies. For instance, Dunkin Donuts is giving away a trip to Costa Rica or free coffee for a year to winners of their contest. Key elements of this contest are that entries must be in the form of a video uploaded to their Facebook page and that Fans of Dunkin Donuts vote for the winner. This encourages sharing and creates valuable content that drives more traffic to the site and can be used in future advertising efforts.
- Product advertising can be uploaded to YouTube, where it might be picked up by individuals and shared on their social networks. For instance, the “Axe Ball Spray” commercials have been viewed millions of times from YouTube. These commercials have received thousands of comments and been uploaded millions of times to Facebook profiles.
- Events marketing can be supported through Twitter hashtags. These tags allow attendees to share information about the event (before, during, and after) with their social networks. DC Digital Capital Week used the hashtag #dcweek as a tool linking across its week long events at various venues.
- Similarly, events can use LivingSocial or Groupon to gain attendance. The additional advantage is that attendees are encouraged to share their attendance on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. If they get their friends to also attend the event, they can get their payments refunded. A great incentive to share with their social networks. Combining these social media with your advertising doubles your impact, but the integration is most effective if each advertising effort includes reference to the other.
- Blogging can be a great way to support your sales and marketing efforts. For instance, I recently worked with a client who used their blog as a means to connect with prospects. By sharing information of interest to these prospects and highlighting the efforts of these prospects, the client was able to establish “top of mind” recognition that encouraged prospects to request a sales presentation when they needed services provided by my client.