Social media is exploding. Everyone’s talking about the huge advertising potential. I see companies and marketers getting positively giddy:
“Think of it! Millions and millions of people we can hyper target with relevant messages and offers, contextual targeting, behavioral targeting – THINK OF THE VIRAL OPPORTUNITIES!”
Um, you’ve got a little bit of spittle there at the corner of your mouth…there, yeah, you wiped it off.
Yes, the potential is huge. But some companies have been disappointed with the results in their early efforts. They have some great ideas, but aren’t always sure how to monetize them. (Read this insightful article on the challenges of monetizing Facebook applications.)
I couldn’t agree more – the opportunity is huge. But how can you really make money from social media?
I was fortunate enough to get to spend some time the other day with Joseph Carrabis of NextStage Evolution. (Are you jealous? You should be.)
One of my many questions to him was about social media – it’s all the rage, but can advertisers really tap into that power to sell their products and services? I was particularly interested in advertisers hoping to reach women. Women are huge consumers of social media. A recent rapleaf study found, while both men and women are using social media in increasing numbers, women far out-pace the men.
Joseph pointed out that social media is about building relationships – if advertisers want to reach her in that medium, they have to be in relationship-building mode.
I thought this was interesting. I was at a recent marketing to women conference where two presenters talked about the “mode” women are in on the Internet and how you need to match that mode. Shopping, communicating, and entertainment are just a few modes she might be in.
Which brings up an important point. If she is in relationship mode, respect her space. She may not want to deal with anyone who is too pushy or does not respect her space. For example, look at women on MySpace decorating and customizing their pages. This is their private sanctuary – just like decorating their room in a house. Be aware of that. It’s one thing to barge into a website she is viewing (with your ad). It’s another thing to barge into her “room.”
Another idea we discussed in relation to women and social media and building relationships is the importance of the concept of fair value. As Joseph says, “You have to give as good as you get.” Is there something of value you can give to her? Are you giving more than you are asking for?
And how do you build that relationship? A great way to start is through a conversation. Social Media is often a great way to have a two-way conversation with your customers and potential customers. Just keep in mind, does she actually want to have a conversation with you? And if so, what does she want to talk to you about? A good place to start would be to answer her questions.
Some of the best advice I’ve heard on the subject came during a recent podcast interview with Forrester’s Josh Bernoff. Josh points out that you can’t start with the technology. You have to start with people and objectives FIRST. What a great point. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come to me and said, “I need to start a blog,” or, “I need to tap into the Internet,” or, “I want to create a discussion forum.” My reply is always, “Who are your customers and what do they want?” THAT’S the first question. What do they care about? How can you make a difference in their lives? What are your objectives? Next, you can come up with which technologies can help you achieve those objectives (i.e., blogs, forums, Facebook, etc.).
It’s a novel idea – start with the consumer and what she wants. (This is the entire basis for Persuasion Architecture.) It’s also about communicating with customers in the manner they want to communicate.
FutureNow recently put up a Facebook page. As our Director of Marketing, Brian Bond said,
“The way I see it, technology evolves to better facilitate the needs of consumers, to have their questions and motivations addressed. The evolution of tools like Facebook is an answer to a need to communicate differently. Just like letter writing was largely replaced by email as a more efficient communication method, I see apps like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc., all evolving as alternatives to email and other current communication methods. For marketers and businesses, this represents a great opportunity to communicate with their audience with the method their audience chooses. This change is something we have to embrace because it’s how our audience wishes to interact with our brand. Who are we to tell them they are wrong? The beauty of the Persuasion Architecture approach, in my mind, is that is that it applies equally well to all marketing/communication methods. It’s all about communicating with customers the way they want to be communicated with and addressing customers’ motivations. If there are technologies that better support this communication, then we must embrace them to be relevant to the customer.”
How do your customers want to interact with you? How can you provide genuine value to them? Remember, relationships are a two-way street. You can’t always ask ask ask – you have to give in return. Think about what you could give your customers that would be of value to them.
Here’s a Facebook ad that got my attention:
Now, I deleted the header because it was “(my age) year-old-woman.” That creeped me out. I don’t like someone calling out my specific age. It’s not that I’m that old (I’m barely out of my twenties, really). But screaming my personal information at me like that made me feel a little violated.
Despite the header, the ad got my attention because it was for free samples of products – many of which I recognized in the image. The fact that this company was willing to give me something first appealed to me. It felt like a welcome gift. It felt like the way I’d like to start a relationship. (Rather than flashing the usual banner ad at me, screaming at me, “Buy our stuff! Give us your money!”) Remember, I’m in relationship mode right now, NOT shopping mode. Offering me a gift appealed to me more than offering a percentage off a purchase.
Want your social media ads to work?
By all means, embrace social media. But start with people, in particular, your customers. Who are they? What do they want? Start with their goals first. THEN bring in technology to achieve your goals. And remember, conversations are a two-way street. Don’t just ask…listen. You’ll form stronger relationships. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Since I’ve focused so much on Facebook, I’d love to hear from you – Advertisers – have you had success using Facebook? Tell me about it. Facebook Users – how do you feel about ads and applications on Facebook? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Sound off in the comments.
If you are doing social media advertising, would you like to do a research project with FutureNow to see how you can make those efforts more effective? If you’re interested, let’s have a conversation about it. You can start by leaving a comment below.