I think I've heard "digital marketing is not about campaigns, it's about relationships" in every session here at the Marketing Profs Digital Mixer in Chicago. It just underscores how dramatically digital marketing has evolved in the past few years, as the Internet becomes social and buyer information sources have widely fragmented.
We've heard today about social and engagement strategies from big brands like Intel and Dell, smaller brands like Hansen's Soda, Salon.com and Radian6 and B2B marketers like Symantec. The consistent message is to listen first, ask later. Creating fun, cool experiences (like a t-shirt contest from Intel or a photo sharing community from Hansen's) are about engagement, but only work because the brand already has credibility from being present and active in ongoing conversations.
Some other great advice to consider as you grow your social presence:
- Start from a position of strength. Build from the value you provide today via email and content assets like whitepapers. Use response data from these channels to understand what topics engage. Build on them via social conversations.
- Ask questions. Start your social strategy with, "How can I help you?" Only sell after you have relationships. (Just like in offline, in-person sales, if you build the relationship well, and focus on needs identification, you never have to hard sell.)
- Put community on the "front page." Remember that there is no front page any more .... search landing pages and community sites that are owned elsewhere can be just as important as your home page.
- Track it. Measure engagement and not just reach. Although this could be defined in a lot of ways, and there is buzz now around tracking visibility and ideas and share of voice; the bottom line is the bottom line. This is business. Measure ROI by how much lift/revenue you received.
- Be disciplined. Not everyone will be interested in every thought you have or every movement of your company. Keep the subscriber/customer interest in mind.
- Thank everyone. While you can offer tangible incentives, loyal fans mostly want to be thanked. Celebrate them. Let them know they matter. Say "Happy Birthday" to your fans.
- Personal brand matters. You are stuck with yourself even if you change companies. One builds the other. This works both ways .... as employees who build your corporate brand may depart, while others step up.
What do you think? What's your best advice for successful digital conversations? Follow all the action on Twitter by searching the #mpdm tag.