Marketers in a Social Network World

Consider what a marketer’s role is: deliver more customers/clients/purchases. You can talk about education and building community and brand management, but there are really only a few metrics that ultimately will get a marketer noticed:

  • Increase in sales.
  • Good media coverage.
  • Healthy sales/customer pipeline.

Am I right? (I’m not a marketer by trade or experiences. I’m a hack who sometimes gets put in the position of helping people market.)

If so, we have to consider what it’s going to be like for you as a marketer, being told to try out things like Facebook and Twitter and other social networks to do what you’re tasked with doing. One problem is that there are obvious benefits to using online methods to market, and yet, it’s not as easy as just blasting your traditional messages via electronic channels. here are some thoughts.

You’re the Visitor

In some cases, newly arriving marketers are quick to dive in and and get their message heard. They make a few cursory passes around the “neighborhood” and then set to work talking about their product or service. The problem is, even though it feels like this new neighborhood is filled with random people, lots of us know each other, and we don’t know you. We understand the pace, the patter, the social norms of this environment. Coming in and getting down to business is frowned upon in almost all cases.

Get to know some people. It does take a little more time, but the results are better. I know plenty of people who could pitch me their new project without me feeling weird or put out by them. Why? Because we’ve already gone through the effort of getting to know each other. I assume that what they’re pitching will be of interest to me, and I trust that they’ll be straightforward with what they need, while being sensitive to their relationship with me.

In the end, people who pitch me well get what they seek, and I do even more than a “cold call” would expect, because by that point, I feel invested in the outcome because I know and appreciate the person who pitched me.

And when the pitch doesn’t match my interests, no harm no foul. Try doing that with a “cold” dive into a social network and see what you get.

Collaboration and Two Way Roads

We do a lot of collaboration in social media and social networks. Sometimes, it’s about your cause. Other times, it’s about mine. Even the non-marketers are marketing for attention. Make a point of helping out others often. Try to be there when they need you, and Digg their story, chip in the $10, or do whatever else needs doing.

People remember those who help out. And then when the time comes, it’s a little more likely that people will be inclined to help.

Is this “quid pro quo?” Maybe. But it’s very tacit and explicit, and people who are collaborating understand that it’s a give-and-take relationship.

When you come without that kind of investment already built into the community, you have to spend some time sharing and doing what else needs doing, as well.

Shared Value

Marketing is used to the idea of giving something to get something. It’s not very different in the social networks world. Only, really consider the value before making the offer. If you’re marketing something that has a fan base, give ways for people to have access to something (give Sony pictures fans cool games to play, like they did with 30 Days of Night’s vampires game on Facebook). Give people who love your software a badge to place on their site, if they want, but make a value link back to the person displaying such a badge.

In short, in the universe of social networks, it’s not enough to hit people over the head with your message. Instead, the goal shifts towards finding supporters and giving them something of value, on one front.

Wooing Non-Customers

Social networks afford marketers the opportunity to learn lots about people. You can read Facebook profiles and understand what people like, who they know, what they support, etc. This means it’s a great environment to find out about people who aren’t engaged with your product, or who use a competing product.

If you’re a smart company like the guys from Zoho, you have search terms and triggers set up for when people mention their products, and I’m going to bet that they have terms set up on certain competing products, as well. (I’m not singling them out, but I’ve met the Zoho team, and have talked with them online – on my blog plenty of times and also in email – and I think they’re a great example of people paying attention to their non-customer base, as well as those who are already believers).

With this knowledge, you have the chance to build relationships, and offer opportunities for people to try out a product they might not be currently using. Don’t be pushy about it, but by paying good attention to blog posts and profile information and the flow of words on Twitter, a marketer can also find their non-customers identifying themselves over and over again.

Because these social networks capture data that isn’t usually considered – watercooler-like conversations, for instance- you have an opportunity that doesn’t exist in the offline world. How you execute on it is the real question. Will you be ready?

Marketers Can Do Magic on Social Networks

But only smart ones. Those who choose to roll their existing methods onto the web will find themselves writing articles in magazines about how the web is a horrible place to market. For the rest of you (and I mostly mean YOU), this is a great place to start out learning, and then grow into being a transplant to this new community. In no time, you’ll be one of the gang, and hopefully, the metrics that matter most to your organization will be growing in the right ways, by way of your efforts.

The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.

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  • http://usingit.wordpress.com/ Keren Dagan

    Hi Chris,
    Your post got me thinking about the difference between the traditional market and the markets accessible using social networks. The first seems to be monitored by many the later I’m not sure.
    If a marketer job is to generate leads he should focus his effort in the right segment, the market fraction that is relevant to his product. It requires some research and planning finding nodes that will lead to the right audience using social networks. Going “blind” can be much a do about nothing vs. pinning down the right edges can lead to exponential reach.
    I echo your approach that it is so crucial to listen first.
    I don’t know if anyone does today mapping between different market segments and social networks nodes (bloggers/leaders).
    Your thoughts,
    Keren

  • http://usingit.wordpress.com/ Keren Dagan

    Hi Chris,
    Your post got me thinking about the difference between the traditional market and the markets accessible using social networks. The first seems to be monitored by many the later I’m not sure.
    If a marketer job is to generate leads he should focus his effort in the right segment, the market fraction that is relevant to his product. It requires some research and planning finding nodes that will lead to the right audience using social networks. Going “blind” can be much a do about nothing vs. pinning down the right edges can lead to exponential reach.
    I echo your approach that it is so crucial to listen first.
    I don’t know if anyone does today mapping between different market segments and social networks nodes (bloggers/leaders).
    Your thoughts,
    Keren

  • http://www.PassportMentors.com Megan

    Great Article. I love the media that social networking is finally getting. There is definatly a right and a wrong way to utilize social networking. And as it can be a great online marketing resource and help you to earn money online. It should be remembered why you are there. If you don’t go just for the free online marketing and with dollar signs in you eyes it can be a great learning resource as well and chance to meet people who can impact your online business as well

    Great Article Thumbs up and I will definatley be returning to see what new articles you have posted.
    Megan
    http://www.PassportMentors.com

  • http://www.PassportMentors.com Megan

    Great Article. I love the media that social networking is finally getting. There is definatly a right and a wrong way to utilize social networking. And as it can be a great online marketing resource and help you to earn money online. It should be remembered why you are there. If you don’t go just for the free online marketing and with dollar signs in you eyes it can be a great learning resource as well and chance to meet people who can impact your online business as well

    Great Article Thumbs up and I will definatley be returning to see what new articles you have posted.
    Megan
    http://www.PassportMentors.com

  • http://askbusinesscoach.wordpress.com courtney benson

    Chris –

    The rules for marketers are changing so quickly that I think many don’t stop to think about what they are doing. Some simply shell it out and see if it will stick. Thanks to people like you we can all garner sufficient data to help everyone learn.

  • http://askbusinesscoach.wordpress.com courtney benson

    Chris –

    The rules for marketers are changing so quickly that I think many don’t stop to think about what they are doing. Some simply shell it out and see if it will stick. Thanks to people like you we can all garner sufficient data to help everyone learn.

  • Ginger Makela

    Very well put. I totally agree with you. I think advertisers really need to listen for a long time before they leap in. Anything less feels fake, and too friendly too soon.

  • Ginger Makela

    Very well put. I totally agree with you. I think advertisers really need to listen for a long time before they leap in. Anything less feels fake, and too friendly too soon.

  • Jonathan Trenn

    I don’t know if I agree with this. It’s not that I directly disagree with what you’re writing, but it seems limited in its scope or application.

    I’ll start with three premises.

    1) The majority of brands out there may not be suitable for being heavily marketed on or engaged to online communities. People want to engage with other people, not brands. Sure, it makes sense for marketers to understand potential customers better. And there are several aspects of social media that makes that easier. But that doesn’t directly mean that social media engagement is appropriate for a certain product.

    2) The pressure on marketers to produce – with CMOs having an average life span of 19 months – can be horrific. Social media marketing can be painfully slow. You mention “getting to know people”. Yes, they should. But establishing networks of friends on Twitter, on Facebook, etc. would work only if the type of brand in question is something that people would feel it is appropriate to be eventually marketed to.

    3) People also want may end up getting leery of befriending someone who’s main purpose down the road is to sell them something.

    Now, I’m not accusing you of faulty reasoning at all…I’m thinking that many marketers may rightly see that their brand would not benefit from social media. Or they’ve got deadlines and time constraints and revenue goals and executive pressure for results NOW. Or they don’t have the personnel – trained personnel – to go out there and engage others online to the extent that the program itself will see tangible results.

    So in the end, the marketer decides that your ideas here don’t apply to them. They may agree with you for brands that social media engagement make sense, but not theirs.

  • Jonathan Trenn

    I don’t know if I agree with this. It’s not that I directly disagree with what you’re writing, but it seems limited in its scope or application.

    I’ll start with three premises.

    1) The majority of brands out there may not be suitable for being heavily marketed on or engaged to online communities. People want to engage with other people, not brands. Sure, it makes sense for marketers to understand potential customers better. And there are several aspects of social media that makes that easier. But that doesn’t directly mean that social media engagement is appropriate for a certain product.

    2) The pressure on marketers to produce – with CMOs having an average life span of 19 months – can be horrific. Social media marketing can be painfully slow. You mention “getting to know people”. Yes, they should. But establishing networks of friends on Twitter, on Facebook, etc. would work only if the type of brand in question is something that people would feel it is appropriate to be eventually marketed to.

    3) People also want may end up getting leery of befriending someone who’s main purpose down the road is to sell them something.

    Now, I’m not accusing you of faulty reasoning at all…I’m thinking that many marketers may rightly see that their brand would not benefit from social media. Or they’ve got deadlines and time constraints and revenue goals and executive pressure for results NOW. Or they don’t have the personnel – trained personnel – to go out there and engage others online to the extent that the program itself will see tangible results.

    So in the end, the marketer decides that your ideas here don’t apply to them. They may agree with you for brands that social media engagement make sense, but not theirs.

  • http://www.chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    @Jonathan- I thnk you’ve got some great points here, and I’m glad you took the time to spell them out for us. You might very well be right. I guess my point was that social media isn’t necessarily for everyone (as stated in the earlier part of the post), and that if someone’s going to get involved, they have to make smart moves and engaged in the process.

    Instead of seeming like you disagree, I think your comments reinforce the earlier point, and I like what you’ve said here.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    @Jonathan- I thnk you’ve got some great points here, and I’m glad you took the time to spell them out for us. You might very well be right. I guess my point was that social media isn’t necessarily for everyone (as stated in the earlier part of the post), and that if someone’s going to get involved, they have to make smart moves and engaged in the process.

    Instead of seeming like you disagree, I think your comments reinforce the earlier point, and I like what you’ve said here.

    Thanks!

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  • Jonathan Trenn

    Chris

    You’re 100% right. My concern is that there are many marketers who don’t see how what many of us are saying applies to them. Some may be correct their assertion. Others may be not so much misunderstanding – they may understand and agree with it fully. But they may mistakenly not understand how it nevertheless applies to them.

    So, it leaves me to wonder something. One is how do we convince the appropriate parties who could benefit by using social media but may not realize it or believe it? I often hear very general statements (and I’m not saying from you) like “engage or die” that could easily turn off seasoned marketing vets who have heard plenty of “…or die” comments before. The challenge is to be able to speak in their language – something you often amazingly do.

    I’m not looking for a specific answer from you, it’s just a thought I’m putting out there.

  • Jonathan Trenn

    Chris

    You’re 100% right. My concern is that there are many marketers who don’t see how what many of us are saying applies to them. Some may be correct their assertion. Others may be not so much misunderstanding – they may understand and agree with it fully. But they may mistakenly not understand how it nevertheless applies to them.

    So, it leaves me to wonder something. One is how do we convince the appropriate parties who could benefit by using social media but may not realize it or believe it? I often hear very general statements (and I’m not saying from you) like “engage or die” that could easily turn off seasoned marketing vets who have heard plenty of “…or die” comments before. The challenge is to be able to speak in their language – something you often amazingly do.

    I’m not looking for a specific answer from you, it’s just a thought I’m putting out there.

  • http://www.donaldlafferty.com/about Don Lafferty

    Re: Jonathan & Chris’ discussion.

    While I agree with both your sentiments I think we need to be careful not to become bogged down in deciding if marketing via online social networking is appropriate or can be successful.

    I think the answers to both of those questions are no brainers. Yes and hell yes.

    Perhaps understanding that online social networks simply represent a growing COMPONENT of a company’s marketing strategy, and not the focus of the strategy is the first step in understanding the limitations of the medium. This can liberate marketers to craft synergistic strategies that ARE appropriate and not offensive in the context of an online community.

    Giving the public the option to join your online community by cross promoting your online presence through traditional media and product packaging provides a less intrusive path to plug into the online social graph represented by your loyal users and other interested parties. This gives you the data to crunch and other tangential socnets to plumb and harvest in the next step of your strategy, which by definition, will be more intrusive.

  • http://www.donaldlafferty.com/blog Don Lafferty

    Re: Jonathan & Chris’ discussion.

    While I agree with both your sentiments I think we need to be careful not to become bogged down in deciding if marketing via online social networking is appropriate or can be successful.

    I think the answers to both of those questions are no brainers. Yes and hell yes.

    Perhaps understanding that online social networks simply represent a growing COMPONENT of a company’s marketing strategy, and not the focus of the strategy is the first step in understanding the limitations of the medium. This can liberate marketers to craft synergistic strategies that ARE appropriate and not offensive in the context of an online community.

    Giving the public the option to join your online community by cross promoting your online presence through traditional media and product packaging provides a less intrusive path to plug into the online social graph represented by your loyal users and other interested parties. This gives you the data to crunch and other tangential socnets to plumb and harvest in the next step of your strategy, which by definition, will be more intrusive.

  • http://remarcom.typepad.com/ Sonia Simone

    Any marketers who are a little freaked out by this new gigantically important Social Media thing need to pick up a copy of Godin’s _Meatball Sundae_ and commit it to memory.

    It’s not about Facebook or Twitter or your CEO blog. It’s about a complete transformation in how large organizations communicate with individuals and communities. Traditional media becomes part of the conversation, it doesn’t live in some other universe.

    This is an “adapt or die” time for folks in the talking-to-people professions. The bad news is it’s stressful (more so if you’re not that thrilled with change), but the great news is that there are a ton of exciting tools we get to use to invent the new reality. Which completely rocks.

  • http://remarcom.typepad.com/ Sonia Simone

    Any marketers who are a little freaked out by this new gigantically important Social Media thing need to pick up a copy of Godin’s _Meatball Sundae_ and commit it to memory.

    It’s not about Facebook or Twitter or your CEO blog. It’s about a complete transformation in how large organizations communicate with individuals and communities. Traditional media becomes part of the conversation, it doesn’t live in some other universe.

    This is an “adapt or die” time for folks in the talking-to-people professions. The bad news is it’s stressful (more so if you’re not that thrilled with change), but the great news is that there are a ton of exciting tools we get to use to invent the new reality. Which completely rocks.

  • http://www.marketingconversation.com Jonathan Trenn

    Sonia

    What is a “talk-to-people” profession? And are you talking about all large organizations?

  • http://www.marketingconversation.com Jonathan Trenn

    Sonia

    What is a “talk-to-people” profession? And are you talking about all large organizations?

  • http://remarcom.typepad.com/ Sonia Simone

    Jonathan, I’m talking primarily about folks in PR, corp communications or marketing communications (marcom), but it also applies to people who work in customer service or anyone who communicates with either customers, the media, or the general public.

  • http://remarcom.typepad.com/ Sonia Simone

    Jonathan, I’m talking primarily about folks in PR, corp communications or marketing communications (marcom), but it also applies to people who work in customer service or anyone who communicates with either customers, the media, or the general public.

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    Am I right? (I’m not a marketer by trade or experiences. I’m a hack who sometimes gets put in the position of helping people market.)

  • Admin

    good job!keep up with the good job

  • http://twitter.com/tmuriuki Tadeo Muriuki

    Great article. My take is we should apply the same skills we use to interact with people in our everyday lives and use them in social media. I am more apt to listen to a sales person who I already know than to a total stranger. Thanks once again for this piece.

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  • http://www.ukelectricalsupplies.com/ electrical wholesalers

    This is yet one more channel which marketers will be able to use to communicate what they do.