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How to start sharing

March 27, 2008

Ah, that term sharing, again. Marketers might not use it. They might say, “We want to get on Youtube”, or “We want a Facebook page”, or
“Can we submit something to Digg?”. They might even say we want to engage in Social media in some way.
What they are saying is they want to start sharing.
Here then is ShareMarketing’s top ten list of things to know next time you’re in a place buzzing about sharing.
1. Write a plan.
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? Start with a plan that has defined goals. If you don’t know the goals, maybe you’re not ready to start sharing.
2. It’s about sharing.
YouTube has a billion or so videos on its 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. Think of a so-called Web 2.0 utility, now tell me how it isn’t about sharing.

3. It’s not a fad.
This is a Google search for the term: “Demise of Facebook.” As you can see, when beacon launched, people talked about Facebook going away. Perhaps you thought that if Facebook goes, so goes this fad about sharing. You’re wrong. Sharing isn’t a fad. For years, people shared their vacation photos and videos with family. The Internet merely widens the scope (and keeps families intact).

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. Being a social media marketer isn’t being an ad buyer.
A banner on MySpace isn’t getting into social media. That’s advertising. And while it isn’t wrong, it’s not sharing it’s telling. Marketers 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 about getting into the conversation (and a little bit about facilitating it).

5. instead of an ad, we’ll just get a MySapce or Facebook page.
‘Fraid not. It might be a start, but like any good start, it needs a plan (see #1). What’s the goal? (See #1). Just because people use (or don’t use) Facebook and MySpace doesn’t mean your client should.

6. All this new stuff is free.
No it isn’t. It’s free to use most social media tools, the client needs to understand that the creation of the content isn’t. Thankfully, marketers are good at creating content. We can and should charge for this. If we start with a goal, it will be easier. We could create a social media plan, and then charge to maintain it (retainer anyone?) If we don’t, someone else might.

7. We’re in control.
Yeahm no where not, but it’s also not chaos. If you ask customers to share, you need to be 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.

However, if someone complains, consider it a good thing. It takes passion to complain. We don’t complain about things we could care less about. A complainer can be turned into an advocate by responding to the criticism. Other people will notice. And all of a sudden, you’re sharing.

8. We can ignore Social Marketing.
Screw the buzz, lets ignore it. 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. We can ignore this, but should we? How many future customers currently use social media as one of their primary communication tools?

9. Social Media is only for Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings
“Fogeys Flock to Facebook”, BusinessWeek magazine says otherwise. And while this is about Facebook, it’s not a trend unique to Facebook.

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.

We have a new tool in the marketing tool box. Power it up.

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