EriK Qualman is a Search Engine Watch Expert and the Global VP of Online Marketing for EF Education. He will be speaking on the upcoming panel at Search Engine Strategies 2008: San Jose on the Social Media Track Social Media Marketing: What is it and What is it Good For? More information about this session is included below.
Social Media has been a hot topic this year. Why should marketers enter this space and what is the key benefit?
Facebook just announced a year over year traffic increase of 40%. Any major brand would be so lucky to have this big of a jump to their site. Marketers should enter the social media space because you always need to fish where the fish are.
The key benefits are 1) could introduce your product to a new audience 2) low barrier to entry 3) valuable/real time customer feedback 4) helps differentiate your brand since some brands have been slow to move in this space 5) Social Media is here to stay so the sooner you start learning and adjusting the better off you will be in the long run.
Unlike SEM (or even SEO), SMM seems to be lacking in measurable metrics that marketers can tie directly back to ROI. What do you say to marketers who feel uncomfortable putting money into a form of marketing that they can’t prove is giving them a proper ROI?
Sometimes you need to look at the other side of the coin: What is the potential cost of not doing anything? How vulnerable are you to competition if you don’t do anything? There may still be hesitancy even if the competitors are embracing new technology, the key is to start small and get a few wins rather than trying to build the “perfect thing” from the start.
It seems like every week there’s a new “hot” social network that everyone raves about–what key factors should a marketer look for when deciding which social media properties to target?
Which properties align with your demographic and psychographic? If you sell walking canes then you probably don’t need to be on MySpace. Figure out which media has the best chance to be around for the foreseeable future. Also, figure out what assets you already have that you can leverage. Do you have a lot of original video content or do you have a huge user base that wants to connect. This will help you select the right medium. Also instead of trying to be on all social places at once. Start with the one that has the best chance for success for your product/brand and then grow channel by channel from there. This is very similar to search; everyone starts with Google then expands to Yahoo, MSN, Ask, Kayak, etc.
Facebook’s advertising platform seems to have fallen far short of expectations. Is it worthwhile for marketers to advertise on Facebook or are they better off spending their money elsewhere?
You should definitely test this as it is very easy to get up and running. From there you can determine your returns and go from there. Many brands have found more success sending their Facebook ads to a Facebook Fan Page rather than to their on site.
While we hear about many marketers making huge ground by marketing through social media (such as those addressed in the panel), far more fail than succeed. Is SMM really something that you can guarantee will be successful if “done right” or is it luck-of-the-draw to a certain extent?
Nothing is guaranteed – intelligence, enthusiasm and luck will take you a long way in life.
Twitter is becoming increasingly popular, despite its many troubles. Do you see Twitter as a viable platform for marketers in the future?
It already is a viable platform as JetBlue, Comcast, Whole Foods, etc. have proven. If you are a big brand and you aren’t already doing so, you should immediately start following what people are saying about your brand. In the past we had to pay research firms for this type of data on our customers – now it is free and real time! A good tool for this is found at http://search.twitter.com.
If you had to guess, what would you say is the “next big thing” in Social Media Marketing?
The two next big things in my mind are advancements in mircropayments and search results incorporating the social graph (socialommerce™).
#1: Micropayments will allow users to easily transfer money between each other even in amounts less than twenty cents.
This might introduce micro-branding. For example on Facebook users can send each other gifts. This typically costs the user a $1. 100% of this goes to Facebook. Today companies like Skittles often sponsor these gifts (Teddy Bear, Skittle). While it’s nice that the user receives a gift they would probably be happier if they also received fifty cents along with their gift icon. This will happen in the future. It’s similar to the concept that MSN is introducing with their Live Search Cashback.
#2: Here’s a real world example of what the future of socialommerce holds:
Jim and his wife just had their third child. With this addition, his two sedans won’t cut it anymore, so he’s in the market for a bigger vehicle. Having vowed to himself and his friends that he’d never own a minivan, he’s in the market for an SUV or a crossover vehicle.
Jim is dreading the hours of searching on the Internet to find a vehicle that suits his needs. He’s dreading even more having to leave work early to visit the car dealerships to test drive his array of selected vehicles and then begin the haggling process. Jim is also fearful that he may make a mistake even after all of his diligent research.
The majority of these pains will become things of the past with socialommerce. Here’s why:
Jim performs a search on his favorite social network – he types in “buying a car.” Rather than receiving a bunch of irrelevant ads for car trader sites he discovers the following:
* 23 of Jim’s friends have purchased a car in the last year
* 16 of his friends are married with two or more children
* 14 purchased an SUV or crossover
* 9 purchased the same vehicle
Jim respects the opinions of the nine people who purchased the same vehicle, so he clicks to find out more, and gets the following information:
“I test drove Crossover X and Crossover Y. Crossover Y was the much better feel and it was easier to get into the back seat. Couple that with the fact that it gets 3 more mph to the gallon and it was a no-brainer.”
Listed alongside the qualitative reviews are certain data points for each friend: price, vehicle, options, lease or finance terms, color, etc.
What does this mean for brand marketing? Well, it means that companies and marketers better start spending more time listening to their customers and potential customers and less time spending hours upon hours figuring out their next award-winning – but “no-customer-getting” – 30-second television commercial. Your power consumers are going to take ownership of brands, and their referral power is now on steroids.
Just as important as listening to the customer is acting on the information received and working with the product team to make quick adjustments. These certainly aren’t new constructs, but in the age of Web 2.0, your brand will experience a quick death if these constructs aren’t adhered to.
For more information checkout Erik at SES 2008: San Jose during the social media track;
Marketing to and through social networks means humans are hot again. Not as directory editors; it’s Web 2.0, and your customers are in control. The old-fashioned media buy has gone bye-bye. Social media marketing is fast emerging as a must-have in search strategies. Learn about the social search revolution, and hear case studies of how marketers have successfully promoted brands and products with it.