DC’s Digital Capital is an annual event and takes place at venues around the city. Most of the sessions are FREE. This month’s edition of Sweets and Tweets was on the agenda and included a panel discussion with the women named among the most influential in technology along with cupcakes and wine (an interesting combination, but not one I’d recommend). The panel discussion was great, but I thought a lot of the panelists would have rather talked about the technology that lead to them being identified as tech leaders, rather than a feminist discussion of women in technology.
The focus of Digital Week is on technology, whether that be programming or using technology. Lots of great presenters and good conversations with participants. The sessions on social media I attended on Wednesday were superb. As part of the Government 2.0 sessions, Ogilvy (360° Digital Influence) hosted one on one consulting for registered non-profits. Session panels also featured non-profits, like the Humane Society, AARP, and others demonstrating how to use social marketing to promote your non-profit (or even your for-profit) business.
One of the most important take-home messages for me was that social media (social networking) is changing rapidly and that firms need to constantly update not only the content on their social media sites, but their social media strategies. Thus, in addition to listening to your audience and what they’re saying about your product, you have to listen to what social media leaders are saying about what they’re doing and what is working in social media today. Maybe trends are moving away from some social networks and toward other social networks — as an example the movement from Myspace to Facebook. Trends may involve new measurement tools to follow how your social communication strategy is doing in meeting its objectives.
Probably the BIGGEST trend in social media is a recognition that social is not so much marketing as it is engagement with a social audience. What do I mean by that? Well, social marketing misses the boat in that it focuses too much on the marketing aspect of communication and not the engagement aspect. Now, that might sound funny coming from a marketing professor, but its because practitioners often misunderstand what marketing is and think it is only advertising and promotion, which are both one way strategies. It is this narrow definition of marketing that most are using in their social networks and it is this type of marketing that has NO place in social networks.
However, marketing is really so much more than just advertising and promotion. It involves marketing research — knowing your target market, what they think, where they go (online), what’s important to them, how they prefer to communicate with each other … It involves engaging the target audience. What does this mean? It means giving them something they want and need.
Help them solve problems — face it, no one cares about your company and its products but you. So don’t tell them about how wonderful your products and prices are — that’s traditional advertising and promotion. Show them how to solve a problem and your product may be suggested as a solution. If you have a product that’s complicated, so they work-arounds and fixes so they can get more out of your product. If your product is used with other products, suggest novel solutions from these combinations, such as recipies. If you’re a drug company, discuss other ways of managing their disease.
Make it fun and entertaining – this can be interesting contests, short media pieces such as songs or movies, or games (look at how many hours people wasted the day Google turned its homepage into a video game). Don’t overdo the sales in providing fun and entertainment. Remember, your providing a service, not MARKETING (using the old definition). What do you think your target audience would find interesting?
Make it two-way – to truly engage your target market you need to acknowledge their ownership. This goes along with my recent blog posts on who owns your company’s brand. The answer is that your market controls your brand. So turn it over to them (and reap the rewards). For instance, I suggested a client wanting a name change hold a contest and let their market both suggest a name and vote to decide on the final choice. This ensures the name resonates with your market and creates engagement that brings customers back time after time.
The rewards from this strategy are vast. First, it gives you permission to market to the market. Marketing is a tit for tat arrangement and you have to give before you can receive. Next, it encourages the market to spread the word about you so more people join your social networking sites. This expands your communication network to make every communication effort more successful.
- Don’t enforce registration to get to information
- Don’t make visitors watch an ad to see your content
- Don’t include too much promotion on your site
- Don’t intrude on their conversations, just take part in them
Everything you need to know about social engagement comes from Emily Post: be nice, be polite, say please and thank you, act responsibly and in a trustworthy manner.