Social media is a journey, not a destination

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As I stood in the lobby of a hotel recently (thankfully while on vacation), a slight variation of the title line flashed on a video screen. Somehow, I linked a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson to what is on the minds of all marketers worldwide-- what are we doing with social media? But the better question should be: What is our social media approach in the context of our overall marketing strategy? We should look at social media as a journey and not something that needs to be tackled because everyone else is doing it.

Saying your CEO needs to have a blog or setting up a Facebook page without integrating these efforts with other marketing programs is no different than creating a banner ad that doesn’t click through. In fact, it may be worse. Social media must become a component, albeit a highly visible one, of your overall marketing and communications efforts. Like all marketing efforts, the content must be compelling, and it must be interwoven with other programs.

We know that buyers don’t consume a single media source when researching a product--that will not change. They may draw information from certain media depending on where they are in the buying cycle but will no doubt look to multiple sources throughout the process. Providing consistency across that experience is more important that just showing up. Understanding why the buyer is there and what they expect their experience to be is much more valuable than compiling information because the barrier to entry is fairly low.

Remember a poor brand experience can have a bigger impact than a positive one. If a buyer is counting on the social media environment as a place to research product information but is not receiving a response back from product marketing because you are not equipped to monitor requests, that may be a lost lead. Or if a support question is raised and other product users aren’t there to respond, because the community wasn’t promoted enough to existing users, your customer loyalty will suffer.

So, in the end, just arriving isn’t enough. Looking long term, identifying responsibilities and embracing the fluid nature of what marketing has become will make for a much more enjoyable journey.

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