Social Media Marketing Is More Than Just a Tactic - It's a Tool - Access Marketing Company

Social Media Marketing Is More Than Just a Tactic – It's a Tool

As the first author to write a book about Twitter, Warren Whitlock has been using the social media platform before “Tweets” entered the standard lexicon. But he wouldn’t claim to be a social media marketer. Instead, he sees the new tech as a new tool for an old tactic. Market.Eat.Sleep. sat down with Whitlock to get his take on how he utilizes social media.
Grey-haired and silver-tongued, Whitlock is more of a salesman than a marketer. Able to spin a story at a hundred miles a minute, he’s able to paint pictures while making a point, and he enjoys doing it. So when he started social media, he incorporated his own style. Instead of thinking of social media as a tactic with set goals, metrics and strategy, Whitlock prefers to use social as a communication tool, like a desk phone or a pager.
“It’s social. It’s how you do business. You transact business with people. Those people are online today. It’s crazy not to be online with them,” Whitlock said.
As marketing continues to wrangle as much value out of social media as possible through content distribution, paid ads and post optimization, many companies are still forgetting one of the basic functions of social platforms – the ability to form relationships, Whitlock said.

The Gaps of Mass Communication

Before mass communication, Whitlock explained, business was done with those an individual knew. Small businesses engaged a much smaller market, and they thrived by getting to know who comprised their market on an individual basis. This worked well for more than a few decades. The shift toward mass communication, however, changed the one-to-one salesman paradigm. Starting in the mid-20th century, advertisers saw a new promise of widening markets and mass marketing tactics to generate higher sales.
For those companies able to foot the bill of mass advertising, the new techniques were widely successful. Before ads become more commonplace, they could greatly influence buyers due to their novelty, and advertisers were able to promise great new products through new media. Even so, the first mass communication techniques – newspaper ads, direct mailers, radio and television – had their limitations. The lack of targeting usually returned under 10 percent engagement, Whitlock said.

Advertisements of the past used feel good images and slogans to engage audiences. These tactics are still used today online with much less efficacy.

Then the Internet arrived. In favor of higher engagement rates due to better demographic and behavioral data, marketers and advertisers started to use targeted communications. Instead of millions reached, only those who showed past interest would be engaged, which boosted ROI of these tactics. However, no matter how successful digital techniques are, there was still a disconnect. That’s where social media enters the picture. The tool can engage with someone on a one-to-one basis while using targeted mass marketing. By melding the techniques of those that came before, marketers are now able to get the best of both worlds.

Social Media in Practice

An example of a conversation on LinkedIn. Instead of just selling a product, this user tried to form relationships with individuals.
An example of a conversation on LinkedIn. Instead of just selling a product, this user tried to form relationships with individuals.

While starting conversations in a hodgepodge manner is an okay start, the best practice for social media engagement is creating a system to engage those who may be interested in your product. The first step is finding individuals you want to start conversations with. By going to the digital places where your audience will most likely hang out, you can create a list of prospects straight from social media by listening in to conversations an individual is already having, which informs the quality of the lead.  With that list of social media leads in hand, a business can then codify how to start conversations with particular leads. What works best is dependent on your audience.
With your audience identified and a communication plan in place, you just have to follow through. No matter what techniques are chosen, however, remember to approach social media as a way to start relationships and find out what prospects need as individuals. If you’ve found hundreds of leads on your social platforms, Whitlock recommends potentially investing in a social CRM able to track each conversation across different platforms.
No matter how you approach social media, there’s no doubt that repeated, effective contact with a prospect will push that prospect toward a sale. Social media–one of the most recent tools to emerge–is just one more way to do so.

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