The Two Things Every Social Media Campaign Must Include
Working with publishers in the field of social media as I do, I see the conceptions and misconceptions that arise around it. As an important component of both SEO and internet marketing, social media has developed a certain amount of prestige, but that very cachet has contributed to the accumulation of myths that cling to it.
Just in the last couple of months I have seen several publishers launch social media campaigns with high expectations and come away disappointed. Where is the disconnect? Is it in the hype surrounding social media, or in the implementation?
From my perspective it's a little of both. Social media's strength lies in its potentially viral nature. You know how it works: you post something on Facebook, and it shows up on the walls of all 734 of your friends. If even one of those friends does something as simple as hit "like" (even by a very easy-to-make mistake) then VOOM— it shows up on the walls of all 829 of his or her friends. And so on in a pattern of exponential growth.
Sounds easy, yes? Well yes-and no. It certainly is a starting point for an understanding of social media; and it serves as a launching point for many publishers as they begin to set up Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and LinkedIn groups and begin the daily task of updating with references to stories and blogs, starting discussions, generating "buzz."
And that is not wrong-it's actually quite correct, as far as it goes. Left alone at that point, your social media efforts can raise awareness of your publication and build audience. It brings you from point A to point B.
The problem arises when a publisher tries to connect the audience building from social media to a sale-or, even worse, use social media but skip the audience development and go straight to a sale. But that is what many publishers are doing: trying to sell direct using social media tools or, at best, using a two-step process to develop an audience (by getting people to join a group, follow on Twitter, or "like" a page), and then sell them something.
This kind of two-step marketing is much easier done by developing an email list and selling to it— and even with email it isn't most effectively done in that two-step process. Effective email marketing demands developing and maintaining relationships, building trust, and giving lots away for free. How much more so, then, does social media, where every interaction is trust- and permission-based.
To make social media marketing effective, a publisher has to find ways to motivate people to take action and share an offer with their peers. And no, just asking the audience to subscribe to a publication or purchase a membership and requesting that they share your offer with their friends is unlikely to get very far. Why should it? I don't pass that kind of thing on-do you?
A good social media marketing toolkit includes many items that can help move the needle— contests and incentives, video and audio clips, humor and suspense. But at their basis there are two things in particular make social media marketing work: starting from "free" and delivering value. The two in combination are exciting and shareable. Either one without the other is weak. A campaign that includes neither is doomed to fail.
Here on Media Dojo I'll share with you ideas and tips on how to structure a great social media campaign. It's a multi-step process with many elements that are frequently overlooked. But every great campaign that I'll show you will start with the two elements of value and free: offer something for free and deliver tremendous value.
I've seen publishers walk away from social media before ever developing a serious campaign that includes either of those elements. In doing so they have ignored the only two things that could have assured them success in social media marketing.
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.