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Social Media Marketing: A Primer

By September 14, 2007No Comments4 min read

So you’ve decided that your company needs a social media strategy, and you’re missing out on what’s next now. Now the question is where do I start? Well before we get into the nitty gritty, we need to cover the basics of social media, the proper way to craft your message, the proper way to target your message, and after all that we can then cover how to get started.

I recently gave a brief bit on social graph marketing, but for all intents and purposes, i’ts basically the same as social media marketing. Social media according to Wikipedia is “the online technologies and practices that people use to share content, opinions, insights, experiences, perspectives, and media themselves.” At its core SMM is about creating and positioning your content (be it your message, picture, video, sound bite, whatever) in a medium where it can propagate itself as much as possible virally. These mediums can be anywhere on the web where people share with each other. If you pay close attention to the web, you’ll notice one thing: people love to share (even if they don’t have the rights to the content – oops!). Some of these places are social news sites like Digg, social networks like myspace or facebook, or social video sites like Youtube.

Social media is not about being the coolest kid on the block everyone knows; it’s about being the one interesting enough to make people want to talk about him. That my friends, is the value proposition of social media, becoming so interesting that people LIKE to share the idea of YOU.

So weak metaphors aside, the first step is to figure out your message, and how you want to craft it. Your message can be anything, but the smart way is to make it inherently viral. Make your message something that people will like to share. Just like a successful facebook application should make your users want to engage each other, a successful social media campaign will shoot for that as well. If you look at a lot of the examples of successful campaigns out there, they tend to ask the user to participate in either the product or the brand, and then share that creation with their friends.

So you’ve created this über cool message which you are sure its going to be seen by billions of people worldwide. What do you do next? Well there are two schools of thought on this, one where you carpet bomb everyone with the same message regardless of whether or not the recipient is interested in it (aka old school media) OR you can figure out where your users congregate and start there (aka smart media). The smart SM marketer will understand his or her targets, and engage them in those places. You wouldn’t go to linkedIn trying to get teens to buy your CD, just as you wouldn’t try to get Facebook users to buy diapers (well maybe soon, but not yet). So at this point in the quest, you need to create a list of sites where your potential customers and marketers (the best customers tell people about their experiences, remember that) are spending time.

You’ve got your message, and you’ve got your list of sites where its likely to be well received, now what? Well your next step should be to start using the communities and sites you’ve chosen. Not use them to promote, but use them as your customers do, and experience them first hand. If you don’t have time for that, find someone who has that experience to hold your hands through this process. One of the biggest pitfalls of social media marketing could be not understanding the mediums, and misusing them. If you fall into that trap, your whole campaign could be dead before it even gets going.

So remember to craft your message in a way that your customer would like to share it, find out where they are hanging out, and finally become part of their community.