We all know that when a new marketing channel appears, it needs to be tested and integrated into existing channels. This integration can be hard to facilitate sometimes. Reporting and baseline metrics need to be created and then merged with traditional reports and schedules. Then what about how this new channel impacts existing channels, this also needs to be tested and measured.

To marketers, Social Media is a new and wildly different communications channel. It’s not in the traditional marketing wheelhouse and understanding how leverage Social alongside of more traditional channels can be challenging. This article is intended to help marketing managers and their teams get more familiar with how to harness the impact of social media in conjunction with their existing marketing plans and initiatives.

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SOCIAL AND TRADITIONAL MEDIA

In order to successfully integrate Social Media with traditional media, it is essential that the entire marketing team understand how these channels differ. Some of the primary differences between the two include:

  • Traditional Media is primarily a monologue
  • Social Media is primarily a dialogue
  • Traditional Media is controlled messaging
  • Social Media is guided conversation
  • Traditional Media is brand-initiated
  • Social Media is consumer driven
  • Traditional Media is structured
  • Social Media is free form

Social Media leans towards a discussion rather than a traditional media pitch. Integrating Social into the pitch means people will be discussing your pitch and you should prepare your team for that discussion.

FOCUS ON THE MESSAGE NOT THE NETWORK OR TOOLS

Social media is not about the tools you use or the networks you are on; it’s about the communication and what is being said. You message or your user’s message about your brand can traverse networks and tools. It is much more important to focus on what is being said how it is being responded to.

A common goal in using social media is to improve communications with your audience, and to reach them where they’re spending time. Look at ways to communicate more efficiently and how to re-purpose existing content to reach new audiences. Before you enter the social media conversation, have a plan with specific objectives for what you want to say and why readers may be interested in reading and responding.

Often the message is not initiated by the brand, but this does not mean the brand should not respond or guide the conversation around the message. At times these messages can be critical and this criticism can be an opportunity, depending on how you handle it.

Two of the more common types of negative feedback involve consumers pointing out mistakes and general dissatisfaction around products or service. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to handle these types of criticisms:

  • If you’re wrong, apologize, then make it right – Every company makes mistakes or falls short at times. Apologize for any inconvenience that’s been caused and then publicly make it right.
  • Listen carefully to suggestions, then act – Some of the best ideas for product and service innovations have come from customers. If your customers are commenting about something you can and should change, take their feedback seriously and do something about it. You’ll create even more loyal customers as a result.

Attempting to delete or hide dissatisfaction will in many cases just serve to create stronger negative feelings about the brand. Open communication will not only help solve the issue at hand, but show ALL of the observers of the conversation that the brand is proactive and willing to listen and act based on customer feedback. This strengthens the relationships with not only the original detractor, but with every potential consumer who “witnessed” the conversation as well.

COMING IN PART TWO

In the next article in this series I will discuss how to get started integrating Social Media into your existing campaigns using a step by step process.