Tips from SXSW: Getting Social Media Marketing Right

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I had the honor of speaking at the 2013 SXSW Interactive conference in Austin recently, and I wanted to share some of the highlights from my speech on social media marketing and customer experience.

While most business leaders accept that social media is here to stay, it’s still a very misunderstood communication channel. If companies don’t get social media marketing right, it has the potential to shatter your business reputation. As the CMO of TTEC and the co-founder of a social media company, ShesConnected.com, here are my tips for social success.

Answer the Question: Why?

Most companies approach social media with a simple tactical plan of building accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and the first thing marketing leaders think about is the technology. Instead, companies need to first ask themselves why. Why is social media important to your company? Why should you use it? Most people have trouble answering these questions. The answer is: because it’s a powerful platform for two-way conversation that can ultimately influence buying behavior. When business leaders understand social media as a highly persuasive conversation tool, they can avoid common mistakes and execute like the experts. Here are some dos and don’ts for socialites: 
  • Don’t hire interns to have online discussions if they don’t know your business mechanics. Who in your organization is responsible for having high-level conversations? These are the team members you want behind your brand’s social voice.
  • Do use content to create conversation. Educational and helpful resources engage social audiences in deeper discussions that build relationships. Segment your target market, look at your prospects’ postings and provide content that is relevant to their area of interest. This leads to conversation and more content sharing.
  • Don’t talk about your brand. Let your branded content do the selling for you.
  • Don’t just listen to the conversation—be part of it. Social monitoring tools and sentiment measurements are only half the equation. If you don’t engage in online discussions, you can’t influence conversations and recognize social ROI.

Make the Move toward Earned Media

In marketing, there are four types of media:
  1. Paid media: a company’s advertisements or paid opportunities for exposure
  2. Owned media: a company’s own website, newsletter, etc.
  3. Shared media: a company’s own social sites where the public can share their thoughts
  4. Earned media: outside social sites, blogs, and word-of-mouth marketing where the public talks about a company’s brand or product

Shared and earned media have the highest potential for influencing buying behavior, because today’s customers listen more to their friends than to marketing messages. Smart companies are shifting to earned media by integrating social capabilities into their website. When companies create social portals, applications, and links that allow customers to seamlessly cross between social and traditional websites, they recognize more interaction and relationship building at a lower marketing cost.

Find the Holy Grail

The biggest social media marketing challenge today is connecting the dots between customers and their social accounts. A customer’s email address and Twitter handle are often different. So, how do companies connect social identities to customer identities?

The social media holy grail is connecting the dots between customers and their social accounts. Tips to find it.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology providers are scrambling to meet this demand, but social business leaders are also making their own efforts. For example, one large bank launched a campaign aimed at its younger customers. The program gave away college scholarships and had a unique Twitter hashtag. Each time customers Tweeted the hashtag, the bank connected their information in the database and donated one dollar to the scholarship fund. There are other ways to close the social identity gap. Banner ads on social sites as well as social customer service can also be effective.   

Connecting social and customer identities is important because it helps companies see the larger economic impact of their customers. When companies capture the social value, they can balance this data with economic information and create a differentiated customer experience that directly impacts long-term profitability. With this intelligence, a company will choose to treat a low-value yet socially-connected customer differently than a low-value, socially-disconnected customer. Companies that tie customer economic value to social influence are rare today, and this capability continues to distinguish socially-savvy organizations with more competitive edge. These companies succeed at using social data to transform the way they compete and to prioritize their customer experience investments.

Tying customer economic value to social influence is rare today and it distinguishes socially-savvy organizations.

The social web is an intrinsic part of the customer experience today, and companies who get social media marketing right use a customer economic lens to gain market strength and brand equity.