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Social marketing — an agency list

November 30, 2007

Ah, that term again. Chances are, you will hear it. it’s the new buzz word in marketing. Along with New Media. it’s a buzz word because in matters.

Here’s a top ten list an agency should know about social marketing.

1. Set a goal.
No matter what it is in advertising, from a TV spot to POP, we start with a defined goal. Same goes for using any of the social media tools out there. How does it fit in with everything else? How will you tell people about it? Having a page on MySpace is nice, but how on earth will people hear about it? If you don’t have a goal, get one or hire someone to get one for you.

2. It’s about sharing.
YouTube has a billion or so videos on it’s site for two very important reasons: everyone has a video camera now, and YouTube makes is dead easy to upload and share them. If you can get a video onto a computer, you can get it onto YouTube. And if you have a blog? Then it’s really easy to share said video with people.

3. It’s not a fad.
There’s some talk about the demise of Facebook. Perhaps you thought that if Facebook goes, so goes this fad about sharing. You’re wrong. Sharing online isn’t a fad. There might not be one place where marketers can go and take advantage of sharing, but that doesn’t mean it’s going away any time soon. There was one a time when people thought LinkedIn would be the social network for work and MySpace (the new Friendster of it’s time) would be the place for personal life.

What those people didn’t realize was that both of them are merely tools. Tools will come and go. Sharing is here to stay.

4. A banner in Facebook is enough.
That’s advertising. And it isn’t wrong, but that it’s sharing, that’s telling. Agency people are trained story tellers. We tell people about great things our clients have or will have. Social marketing is about more than that. It’s not selling through telling. It’s more like, connecting through telling. (I hate the word connecting, but there’s no good way to say it.)

5. Okay then, all we need is a MySapce or Facebook site and we’re in business.
‘Fraid not. It might be a start, but like any good start, it needs a plan. What’s the goal? (See #1). Without a goal, your page on Facebook will be one of the many thousands that will never me looked at.

6. It’s free.
It’s free to place a page on Facebook. It’s free to have a Twitter feed. However, the client needs to understand that while the media is free, the creation of the content ain’t. Thankfully, agencies are good at creating content. They can charge for this. Start with a goal and it will be easier. Create a social media plan, and then charge to maintain it. Chances are good that if agencies don’t start this, someone else will.

7. We’re in control.
Nope. This is called Share Marketing. If you ask customers to share, you have to prepared for the worst. Thus, you not only need a goal as to why you’re doing it, you should have a plan in place in case things get out of control. Molson Breweries in Canada held a contest in Facebook to determine the #1 party School in Canada. They asked college kids to submit photos. If you’ve used Facebook, and know a college kid, then you know this is a bad idea. Most university-aged kids use Facebook to show how hard they party. It ended badly. The headline in Canada’s national newspaper was: Molson pulls plug on Facebook photo contest. Not exactly good press.

8. Agencies can ignore Share Marketing.
No doubt. There are a number of good reasons to stay away from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, digg, yelp, Second Life, last.fm, Joost and the many other places online that are working to build a community of people. There are pros and cons to most of these, and they are being updated all the time. There might be a perfect opportunity for a brand online in a tool that is about to come out of Beta. But you better be looking for it.

9. Social Media is only for kids
“Fogeys Flock to Facebook”, BusinessWeek magazine says otherwise. And while this is about Facebook, it’s not a trend unique to Facebook. I know of a 66-year old man who just started using a computer. The first program he used was Skype. The next one just might be yelp.

10. You can’t measure it.
Wrong. If you have a goal, you can measure against that goal. if you simply start using a tool without a goal, then what would you measure anyway? But keep in mind, this isn’t magic. Some of these tools are more like Billboards than they are direct mail packages. You can’t perfectly measure a billboard, and you can’t perfectly measure sharing. But if it does work, then you have the chance to have something great.

Because we have a term for when sharing works: viral. We can never promise it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It starts with the idea, then moves to getting the idea out there using everything at our disposal. Right now, everything could and maybe should include share marketing.

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