The marketing industry buzz this year is that the Pepsi Corporation pulled its ads from the Super Bowl and also shifted a full 1/3 third of its multi-million dollar annual ad budget to the social media environment. It is very hard for most of us to understand how websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and others become tools to help us with our communications and augment the replacement of our current marketing models. But, the fact is electronic media is where people go for their information. Newspaper circulation everywhere is collapsing. So, fewer readers are seeing those ads. Television viewership is declining so fewer viewers are seeing those ads. Plus, the use of DVR systems and TiVo are effectively removing the commercials from the TV shows that are watched.
The unique difference of the social media models is that it tends to push information to the community of participants that have connected to you. The overriding theme of using social media tools is to create a sense of community around a product, a company, an idea, a project or around you as an expert. The fact is that the whole model works. What started out with Twitter having teenagers writing such things as: “eating a peanut butter sandwich with my boyfriend” has transitioned into management companies driving news and information to unit owners, vendors and client prospects such as Associa does at http://twitter.com/Associa. Facebook is not for kids any more. The College of Community Association Lawyers has a Facebook page and uses it as a hub of information for the attorneys that are members. LinkedIn is an effective place to create a networking group for discussions among like minded parties. You are also going to need a Blog which is your online diary-like platform to be constantly providing your community of contacts the value of your expertise.
It is very hard to get a grasp of the marketing and communication value of these tools without a bit of study. I would like to reflect on my own study which subsequently drove me to develop my HOALendingPro marketing model. What you will learn is that there is a strategy of assembling the sites discussed thus far into a connected group. Each of the sites achieves different purposes. You need all of them to have an effective well-rounded marketing communication set. From my experience, Florida Attorney Donna DiMaggio Berger is about the most assertive professional in the community association industry that has an active and well-rounded use of all the social media tools: http://twitter.com/CondoandHOALaw. Her strategy is to be active on all of the sites on a daily basis, driving different pieces of information or the same information to the possibly different people who are signed on the various social media tools she uses. She also is the member of many LinkedIn group and drives the same dialog through the many groups to be sure that her name and message are reaching everyone possible in the industry.
My own journey to try and figure out what all this is about started with reading books. I was motivated by the many newspaper articles and business journal articles about this new method of reaching your market of interest. I wanted to become an old dog that can learn new tricks. My first book was “Twitter Power: How to Dominate your Market one Tweet at a Time” by Joel Comm. What an eye opener! The book that truly got me to appreciate what all the fuss was about and what the potential could be is “Online Communities Handbook: Building your Business & Brand on the Web” by Anna Buss & Nancy Strauss. This is the book that will coalesce the whole idea of social media marketing for you.
What these website tools do is allow you to put yourself, company, idea, product or cause out in front of your market and drive you to be perceived as the leader. The tools do require that you have a well-planned strategy to be effective. Although, using the social media sites is free, an effective social media marketing effort takes a good bit of human resource management by a person skilled enough to handle it. You could, of course, outsource the effort. It is the management of your marketing effort that will cause you an expense. But, an expense that is controllable by you as you determine the intensity of your effort. The skills needed are marketing based. You need a good writer to produce the volume of text you wish to distribute. The additional skill is that the person is tech savvy enough to figure out all the nuances of using the social media site tools. They are not overly hard but if you are not tech savvy enough, you could find yourself not asking the right questions and missing out on opportunity for greater efficiency and more effective message distribution.
MyEZCondo (http://myezcondo.com) is a company that produces community association newsletters. This business owner has wrapped himself all up in the science of social media utilization. As a result, his message is being distributed vastly because moving the same message through multiple venues repeatedly in an automatic way. The technologic capability makes my head spin and new capabilities evolve every day.
To sum up, the social media marketing concept is the wave of the future. It is happening now and is at your dispose if you have something to promote. You will one day inevitably find yourself using such tools to move your message out into the world. The sooner you evolve into using these tools, the more you will be ahead of those that you need to be ahead of. Approaching the tools needs to be done in a professional way with a well-considered strategy supported with the right staff or outsourced vendors. The program needs the resources committed to it for a long-term effort as it can be a time consuming exercise and you need to be prepared for that commitment.
To view my own social media experiment, go to www.HOALendingPro.com and click on the links for my Blog, LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook.