The following is a discussion on a blog by Michelle Bonat originally posted in late 2008 but still very relevant today. Michelle discusses taking small steps towards integrating Social Media Marketing with classic (traditional) marketing programs.
Babysteps…How to integrate social media with traditional marketing programs
Social media marketing is most effective when it is an integrated part of your overall marketing efforts. But how do you jump into social media when you already have some really effective classic marketing programs in play? Here are a few ways you can babystep into the world of social media by leveraging the good stuff you already have.
1) Maintain a single consistent marketing strategy through classic and social media marketing.
Your goals, objectives and messages should be consistent across all of your marketing. Sounds simple, but unless you define and enforce this it won’t happen.
The good news here is that you don’t have to re-figure this all out just for social media. It’s really just taking your existing marketing platform and extending it.
2) Extend your reach – Reach out to your influencers in ways that they like to communicate.
Use your existing marketing knowledge about who influences your product’s purchasing decisions, and use social media tools to create a discussion with them where they hang out.
Some specific examples: Are your influencers kids? Get on the social networks catering to the younger set. IT buyers? Figure out which bloggers are influencing this community. Mobile sales professionals? Deliver content in a mobile enabled way, such as Twitter.
3) Invite your customers into the process.
While you are planning your next product, refining your messaging, or even launching a marketing campaign, figure out a way to get your customers involved whenever possible as early as possible. When you do this they feel that they have been heard, feel more engaged and valued, which results in a tighter connection with your company and product. It also gives you the benefit of upfront input. A product that people actually want? Described in a manner that speaks to them? Wonderful!
A good way to on-ramp this customer involvement include online communities (public or private, even a public group on an existing social network). You can even ask them to deliver their thoughts in video form by way of a contest – “describe what our product means to you”.
4) Turn an online forum into a social media hub.
Make people feel more at home by adding profile information and allowing the posting of pictures (or pointers to a picture posting service like Flickr).
Recognize that you have to give to get. Start a genuine conversation with your audience by having company employees contribute to the forums in their own words. For example, instead of just asking for feature enhancements suggestions, tell them what direction you are headed and, if possible, the timing for these enhancements (without giving away too much info). Then ask them their opinion.
Try these few tips to help ease into a social media program that leverages your existing marketing – and you will soon be on your way!