For many marketers, this new marketing discipline is an exciting departure from more traditional marketing mediums, a way to engage with customers in a more intimate, one-on-one way. And many Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies, such as Dell and Zappos.com, have seen amazing results.
However, for smaller companies and Business-to-Business (B2B) marketers,
social media marketing represents an untested, fearful frontier, requiring a substantial dedication of resources and budget, with no guaranteed Return on Investment (ROI).
This second group of professionals often feel pulled in both directions. On one side, they feel the peer pressure of fellow marketers, pushing them to blog, "Friend," "Tweet," and "Link up," and warning them they'll get left behind if they don't.
One the other side, they're pulled towards the trusted success of more traditional marketing channels, such as a email, direct mail, print, online advertising. While they're not always satisfied with the results from these mediums, they've had success with them in the past, and enjoy the comfort of knowing what to expect.
So what's the solution for marketers? How can one protect their current marketing returns, without missing potential revenue opportunities from social media marketing?
A Three Step Test Plan for Social Media Marketing
1) Maintain What's Working, But Carve Out Some Budget For Social
Unless you've suddenly received additional budget for social media marketing (insert laugh track), you're probably stuck diverting resources from other marketing tactics to make social marketing happen. Try not to touch the funds supporting your current effective tactics, instead drawing from the cost of under-performing tactics.
Since this is a test, you will to allocate enough budget to generate "statistically-significant" results that you can compare against your other marketing channels. This could require 10-20% of your total marketing resources, depending on the size of your budget.
2) Create a Focused Strategy
Since you will be working with a smaller budget, it's important to focus your efforts for maximum result. Instead of creating profiles and accounts the hundreds of social media platforms, start by identifying a couple of tactics to pursue, and metrics for determining success. For example:
- Tactic: Start a blog, and update it frequently with relevant topics for your audience. Goal: Increase website traffic by 20% and generate (insert your number here) blog subscribers.
- Tactic: Use Google Alerts and TweetDeck to monitor the web, blogs and Twitter for mentions of your brand (negative or positive), and join the conversations. Goal: Increase customer satisfaction and positive online brand references.
- Tactic: Build your LinkedIn network of customers and prospects, and start or participate in a LinkedIn group focused on a topic of interest to potential referral sources and customers. Goal: Identify and create relationships with 10 new prospects or referral sources each month, resulting $X of new revenue.
- Tactic: Start a Facebook Page, and build your audience by distributing exclusive offers to "Fans." Goal: Increase foot traffic to a store or restaurant, online purchases for an e-commerce site, customers for a service, or members for an association.
3) Analyze your Social Media Marketing Success or Failure
Now it's time to site down and analyze your results to determine what tactics worked and what goals were reached, and which were not. In addition to looking at the hard numbers, use anecdotal information in your judgment. For example, if one of the tactics didn't reach the revenue goals, did it generate conversations that could lead to substantial future revenue?