Tag Archives: Facebook Marketing

Forget Social Media for Social Media’s Sake – Your website is a strategic asset

There is much talk of how websites are moving away from being brochure sites, designed to communicate at the target audience, towards them being web applications for engaging with the audience. This is the natural logic which follows on from the interactive power of web 2.0, but perhaps the pendulum has swung too far.

Throughout the years companies have needed marketing collateral to position their brand to their best advantage, this includes brochureware, presentation folders, inserts, boilerplates on press releases, the website etc. and there is no reason why this should no longer be the case. Organisations need a strategically defined brand which acts as the fundamental backbone for all marketing and communication.

The website might be a manifestation of the brand because it contains the corporate messaging and the logos, but it is also a tool which the organisation can use to tell the audience where it thinks it is and what is important to the company. While the brand is a collection of experiences, we cannot expect our audiences to divine our purpose simply from their exposure to our employees, and as such, carefully written brochureware is a critical tool in the brand management arsenal. We also need to tell people what it is we think we are and why we think we are better and what better opportunity than through our marketing collateral?

At the same time, with the power of the modern interactive web and the advent of the knowledge worker, businesses are no longer about the buildings, logos and balance sheets etc. They are being perceived as a collection of individuals who provide services and ensure that operational requirements are met, whether they are legal financial, technical etc. As such, we expect to speak to people and feel justifiably aggrieved when we are forced to talk to a call centre operator or run up against obstinate individuals who hide behind company policies. It is at the touch points of an organisation that we experience the brand, whether through the sales process, service in fixing a problem, collection on payment or delivery on service.

Unfortunately with the world becoming obsessed with web 2.0 and using social media  to engage with audiences, we see a proliferation of unnecessary social media tools on so many websites. It’s as though people are adding Facebook and Twitter links for social media’s sake, without thinking about their strategic objectives; blogs stand sparsely populated, links are broken and wikis left unattended. Why do I want to become a “Fan” of some arbitrary photography shop on Facebook? What is the point of being a “Fan”, all I get is some self-serving drivel, or worse still a price list, from someone who is married to his business. There are no interesting conversations or people to meet, the owner merely has access to Facebook and thinks that web advertising is free.

The choice of the social media format that you select for your website is dependent of your organisational strategy, the types of employees, what your brand stands for, the depths of relationships that you need to form, and the investment that you are prepared to make, both financially and in terms of time and your business environment. There are a multitude of permutations, here are three examples.

  • Let’s say you are a night club and audience interaction will lead to more clubbers on a Friday night, then you do want your audience using the website as an interactive application for networking with each other and you. Your website could be developed as the point of engagement and the audience equipped with a range of social media tools such as blogs, posts, wiki’s along with the usual eMail addresses and telephone numbers with which to communicate or engage with you. They should be able to be a fan and post interesting comments about what happened last week from your site to Facebook.
  • On the other hand,  if you are a conservative bank which trades on its proud legacy of serving clients for one hundred and fifty years, you probably want to manage your engagement with the public in a more measured way, so your website would be a collateral site with certain mechanisms in place such as avatars and IM to manage communication and your online reputation. In this instance, you do not want every employee to have their own social profile as a representative of the organisation, although you most certainly want your executive to have a pretty robust digital footprint. Your website should be a piece of organisational collateral which everyone recognises as such, enhanced by some direct communication tools and the necessary individuals who make up the executive should build up their individual profiles using other social media tools such as Linked In, Facebook, industry forums etc.
  • If you are a Management Consultancy, an Executive Head-Hunter or a company that trades on the IP of the individuals who work there  then the website could be a hybrid where it becomes a repository for both the organisational collateral and the collective intellect and thought leadership within the organisation. Depending on what the user is looking for, he can choose to “find about us” XYZ Corporation, or he can “find out about me” Bryan Mole, Head of Performance Management Solutions at XYZ Corporation. The potential employee or client has the choice of how he manages the relationship by, for example, taking the conversations into cyberspace on Linked In, becoming part of the Bryan Mole’s network, or following him on Twitter.

Social media may well have changed our ability to communicate with our environment and the way we do business, but fundamentally, the rules of engagement and marketing have stayed the same; relationship management and brand building are still all about delivering on the organisational objectives and contributing to the bottom line and as such, the planning of our web presence requires an investment in strategic thought.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Creating Social Strategies

Social networks are living, organic communities which display evidence of specific behavioural patterns and “network” effects, because of the “biomatrix” effect.

  • “Network” effects refer to the fact that social networks grow in value to the individual members as membership grows, the more people in the network, the better the network is; and
  • The “biomatrix” effect is similar to systems theory and has to do with the overall behavioural patterns of networks which are comprised of independent and yet interrelated individuals.

The important lesson from this is that Social Networks are dynamic and subject to influences from the environment and from within. In order to create successful social strategies the Marketer has to recognise that she is a network influencer, from both the inside and without. She is part of the community, and yet it is an outsider at the same time.

Marketers often struggle with how to use social networking sites to reach potential customers because they treat social networks as just another channel to get people to click through to a site, i.e. they try and excerpt an external influence. People seldom click through on advertising on social networks, unless the advert is relevant to them in the context of the network, i.e. an internal influence. Generally, ads are network disrupters, while their presence might reinforce brand awareness, people are not going to leave their networking space to explore purchasing and advertised product.

Marketers need to shift their mindset from Social Media as a medium to Social Strategy as a behaviour.

Social strategies are all about building and becoming part of the community and communicating with them, rather than advertising at them. A good social strategy essentially uses the same principles that made on-line social networks attractive in the first place, enabling people to network better, build their own personal brands, reminisce, build strong business relationships etc.

To execute on social strategies, the Marketer needs to re-look and make the necessary changes to her real world and digital offerings to make them more social and leverage group dynamics. There are a lot of businesses saying, ‘Let’s tweet or create a Facebook page or let’s advertise.’ but this is not a social strategy. The fact that someone can become a fan of your business on Facebook, or follow you on Twitter doesn’t mean that you have engaged with them or part of their community. Engagement is all about creating value, you need to provide a digital platform for them to validate themselves, network with others, find useful information etc.

A social strategy recognises that you are a part of the community and as such you have to respect the rules of the community which primarily go around “what’s in it for me the community member?”.

The offering or communication must therefore appeal to the community member’s psychographics (reviving that wonderful memory, remembering that smell) as he encounters your social media campaign. The Marketer should provide value to the community, whether it is disseminating information, enabling members to communicate with each other, or providing them with a way to share their memories.

The key to making social media work is to have a specific plan and a goal for the behaviour you want to elicit. You cannot expect tweets and YouTube videos to equate to more traffic and more sales. Marketers need to understand the desired metrics of a successful social media campaign, are they more traffic to the website, building brand equity or greater brand awareness etc. Social Media can also be used to prevent bad press before it happens, ensure that a loyal community rallies around a cause or create a community that will generate good press.

Once a goal has been identified then it a plan must be developed, just like for any other business objective. Metrics must be set to measure success and tools implemented to measure ROI.

This is an experimental world, nobody has all the answers because it is so new and constantly changing as different consumers and late adopters come on board. Marketers should not be afraid to reach out, make mistakes and be vulnerable. Even if you blunder, tourists will forgive you if you’re transparent. Most importantly, recognise that this is the tourists’ terrain and the you are a guest in their world. Don’t patronise you host, rather constantly look for value to the audience.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0