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Your social media strategy

Social media, and by that I’m lumping together blogs, RSS, social networking and bookmarking, presents the marketer with a rich set of new tools to help in the effort to generate new business.

But, if that’s the only way you view social media, as a set of tools to perform a set of tactics to reach the set of objectives you have always tried to reach with your marketing, then not only are you really missing the opportunity, you will probably find yourself wondering what all the fuss is about.

You can’t approach new media with old thinking. Taking full advantage of social media requires understanding and adopting a specific social media strategy.

First and foremost you must appreciate the differences between social media and, say, direct mail. With direct mail the outcome is likely to create an action, with most social media, it’s to create a connection. Both of these have equally important places in the long-term health of a business, but how they happen is significantly different. Try to do one with the other and results may actually backfire – ie: Ads on Facebook?

I think the best way to look at social media is to view it as a way to open up access points. These points can then be leveraged to create content, connection, and community. Do that well, and they can also add to lead generation, nurturing and conversion.

I’ll talk more about this in a free webinar this Wednesday put on by the good folks at Jigsaw, but here are couple point to ponder.

Choose your social media tools with an ideal interaction in mind
~ Is a blog a starting point or an ending point?

Choose your social media objectives with connection in mind
~ Are you after traffic, primary and secondary links or access to communities that think and act alike?

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  • Tyler Garns


    Great insight. No doubt, social media requires a totally different mindset than traditional media. Its can be painfully obvious when people jump into the social media world with their traditional “marketing objectives” in mind.

    One thing that can help is to always ask yourself the question, “What value can I bring to this community, or to this discussion?” If you can’t provide value, then don’t get involved – most likely you’ll just be spamming the community. If you can provide value, jump in and leverage that value to connect with people that can help you.

  • Raza Imam

    If I’ve learned anything from open source, peer2peer file sharing, user generated sites like (YouTube, Digg, StumbleUpon), WikiPedia, blogs, RSS feeds, etc. is that the now more than ever you have to PARTICIPATE and offer value. Yesterdays power brokers are today’s paupers. You can’t force feed information anymore. You have to share stories, mistakes, experiences, etc.

    Keep the words SHARE and PARTICIPATE in mind when dealing with social media and you’ll never ever have a problem.

    Raza Imam

  • Moksh Juneja

    I also believe in social media enhances the relationship marketing fundamentals!!

  • Jennifer Laycock

    Social media IS about the conversation, but keep in mind that it can also be about the action.

    I’ve used LinkedIn countless times to network. For instance, if I need a contact at a company, I can go in and run a search to see if anyone is within two degrees of me. Often, I’ll find a friend has a contact I can leverage. Social media, but direct action taken.

    I’m finding the same with things like Twitter. It’s driving decent traffic to my sites, but I’m also finding very practical application for it. Just yesterday, I was talking with a faith based group about how they could use Twitter to connect their young audience in a virtual prayer chain.

    Leveraging this type of technology takes creativity and it takes looking past the links and the traffic to find the true value. Sometimes that’s in direct sales or actions, but as you point out, it’s most often in the conversation.

  • John Jantsch


    Great additions – I really love to hear practical applications for Twitter because to me it’s the poster child for “and, I’m supposed to do what with this?” At first glance it’s so silly looking, but then you step outside of the obvious and that’s where the magic happens with a lot of online tools.

  • Webster

    I like to think that social media is just reinforcing what great traditional marketers have always known, and the transparency of the medium only drives a larger wedge between good marketers and bad ones. From a certain point of view, nothing has changed.

    Know your customer, differentiate and add value.


    The Facebook example was absolutely hilarious! Every time I see companies on there advertising, I always find myself thinking “why?”. Facebook is strictly a social utility that is meant for networking and simple socializing. If your advertisements aren’t geared in that direction you’ll most likely fail.

    Dwayne Lattimore

  • Chris Smude

    John, thanks for the clarification – connection vs. action – I’m somewhat new to the social media arena and this hit home.

  • Paul Ford

    Yes, it takes a sometimes more than a little rewiring to stop thinking traditionally, and to start thinking and acting as a social participant.

  • Michael Allen

    The reality of social networking is that it’s a phenomenal number of people running away from advertising. What do they way? After all, they are still consumers. But, they don’t want advertising. Yet, they are getting chased by advertisers who are trying to get their attention. Doesn’t work.

    They want valuable information on products and services so they can better make an informed decision. Some of them don’t even want that. They just want to connect with family and friends, share pictures and exchange comments. But, they are still consumers and they value information over advertising. They view information as more credible than advertising. And that’s how, years ago, someone discovered the blog and the social network actually can produce sales. Just not in the traditional sense of saying, “Hey buy from me.”

  • Eamon

    Nice post: have been looking for a post that summarizes social networking in a useful way. This does just that.

  • JeffS

    In line with the original post and comment 2, being active and letting people hear your voice is definitely a necessity. Showing face as a company, getting involved and interacting with consumers is essential – and these social sites provide a valuable tool for that integration. Building a relationship with clients lets them know you’re listening, and there’s extreme value in that. This new blog has further reading on the subject.

  • Michael Homula

    Showing up, contributing to the community/dialogue, engaging consumers at their level is all well and good but to me there is still something missing here. Consumers want transparency, relevance, personalization and congruence. Just showing up and contributing information or ideas is likely not enough. That information and contribution still needs to meet the some or all of the criteria above to sshow any real results. In my world of talent acquisition and talent management relevance, personalization, transparency and congruence are critical elements to gain engagement and get the candidate or client to buy. Sure, you can do less than this and have a transactional relationship with tactical advantages. If you execute well in the areas above I have to believe, and my experience tells me, I will have meaningful relationship that resonates and significant strategic advantages for the long term.

    Are you after short term gain or long term gain? Either might fit your particular need or business goals but one is sure to burn out and you have to move on to thext great thing.

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  • hugh

    Yeah, it’s really amazing, I’ve been knee-deep in social media for years, but as soon as i started trying to “market” a new project (which is commercial), I started balking… I felt a certain lack of genuineness, and that slowed me down a little, because I’ve always looked at it from the other end: the marketing receiver, so cautious about disingenuous “social” marketing. it’s a fine line to walk.

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  • SEO Design Solutions

    It becomes painfully obvious that the discretion you utilize in online social interaction requires it’s own unique etiquette and poise. Submitting your own content, is typically taboo, unless that is you have proven your worth and can contribute to the community. Once you are on the in circle, it feeds itself and continues to propagate new members who then become aware of the conditions of the pecking order.

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  • Chris Russell

    Well said John. I think social media is about transparency as well. Companies need to be more open and use social media to participate in the conversation. I currently blog about social media recruiting.

  • Askwish

    Hi John,

    Thanks for sharing your insights regarding social media and networking strategies. There is a brand new site that I have been a part of that realy has the potential of going the next level to allow people to truely impact one another and allow businesses to come to the people. It’s called Feel free to check it out

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