There’s hardly any contention these days that establishing an integrated approach to marketing isn’t just a good idea; it’s a necessity.
A recent study by Fox Interactive Media reveals that audiences in general are shifting from traditional media to the web, though the movement doesn’t stop there. Audiences continue to shift, moving away from the static web and expressing a preference for social media and Web 2.0. The same study by Fox also shows that 40% of social network users rely on social media outlets to learn more about brands and products. To look at the social media paradigm from the other perspective, Adidas and Electronic Arts credit the “momentum effect” of social media for 70% of their marketing return on investment. (Source: “Working Social Into the Mix: Social Media Marketing as Part of an Integrated Marketing Strategy,” eMarketing Papers.)
Whether you’re a freelancer promoting your own brand or part of a company, social media marketing is an essential component of an integrated campaign. If you’re looking to get started or to expand your online presence, a three-pronged approach focusing on social networking sites, your own website, and the blogosphere will help empower your brand and positively convey your message.
Putting a Face to a Name: Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites promote brand awareness and drive traffic back to your main site. At a minimum, establish basic profile pages for yourself or your company on social networking sites that are relevant to your audience such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace.
Establishing Your Voice: Blogging on Your Own Website
Contributing timely, relevant and keyword rich content to your own blog aids in search engine optimization and enables you to establish a home base which your other social media marketing efforts can link to. Forums or message boards on your website also encourage community involvement.
Honing Your Reputation: Joining the Blogosphere
Developing a presence for your brand through other social channels—by using social bookmarking, commenting on industry leading blogs, and joining relevant forums—increases your exposure and builds your reputation.
Give Voice to Your Brand, and the Online Community
Jeremiah Owyang, Senior Analyst at Forrester, points out in his blog that the real opportunities within social media marketing are contained in the community itself. After conducting a “scorecard” review where the social marketing efforts of 16 firms were tested using social criteria rather than traditional marketing criteria, Jeremiah points out: “Marketing efforts did best when the control was turned over to the hands of the community.”
Whether you’re ready to launch an entire campaign or you’re just getting your feet wet, the message is clear: relinquish some of that control, join the collective conversations of the social media sphere, and see what value the online community can contribute to your platform.