Social Media – you call this marketing?

Let me be clear here, I have a lot of experience in Social Media. Let’s see, I’ve been active on Twitter for about 3 or 4 weeks already – I must be some kind of guru by now surely.

I’d always thought that Social Media was simply a way to let kids waste time that should be spent on homework or something else useful.

Wow was I wrong. Since the owners of my company were brave enough to let me loose in the marketing world, I’ve quickly discovered that there is no room for kids in Social Media these days. The space is occupied by marketing and techie types, most of them offering to make you a Twitter expert in 2 hours or to show how to make your lame website the top search result in Google.

socialmediaOK this is an exaggeration, but it does seem that to get anywhere in marketing, one has to be seen to be “doing Social Media”.

So why have we thrown our kids off line so we can take over some cool web properties? A lot of the reason is people like me.

In my post on how to market to me, I listed a lot of the ways I successfully avoid traditional marketing and advertising. Quite honestly, I’m sick of it and I’m not alone.

Making marketing more of a two-way conversation, rather than one-way blasting of messages is fast becoming a cult. Heck it even has its own Bible, The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. This is probably the best guide to conversational marketing yet written.
Traditional marketing basically consists of attempting to get one’s message out to the potential client base. There are many ways of doing this, TV, radio and print ads, E-mail blasts, mass mailing, PR, on-line banner ads and paid Internet search advertising are all good examples – I’m sure you could come up with a lot more. Let’s be fair, none of these marketing techniques is going to go away anytime soon; there didn’t seem to be any problem with selling ad time for the most recent Super Bowl if I remember correctly.

What all the traditional marketing methods have in common is that they are interruption based – the potential client (along with many who are just not potential clients) gets the message regardless of whether they want to. This is the main reason I put some effort into be advertising free – I’m just not interested in constantly being told I need to buy lame products I have zero interest in.

Conversational marketing (or inbound marketing, marketing 2.0. social media marketing – call it what you want) is a refreshing alternative. At its core is the production of good content that is completely relevant to the intended client base.

The next step is to get motivated members of the potential client base to be able to find the great content, when they are looking to answers to questions or for solutions to problems.

There are many ways to get interested clients to the content. The traditional marketing methods have a great role to play in this – mailings, telemarketing, paid search marketing, along with more Web 2.0 methods such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

The key is to drive this inbound traffic not to a boring static web page, but to an interactive blog post or a specially designed landing page.

Our potential customers are empowered with more information than at any time in the past. They are not likely to be satisfied with following a link to a site that is just the on-line version of the product catalog. It is up to us as marketers to provide content that will help our clients solve their specific problems, have links that allow them to do more research and to allow them (if they choose) to interact with us directly.

I recall Mike Volpe of HubSpot saying that inbound marketing is all about brains beating budgets. Marketing is no longer about having the biggest budget to send more stuff. It’s all about using our brains to make sure that clients with a need for our solutions are able to find and engage us.

It’s a fun time to be in marketing – that’s for sure.
Oh – make sure you follow my adventures in Twitter – @DavidUnique

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