Social media: The Wild West of marketing

Marketing with social media is still largely uncharted land. So experiment, and see what works best.

By , Guest blogger

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    Lloyd Bridwell, Cowboy College founder, and owner of Triangle M ranch Ed Hanks discuss roundup strategy at crest of hill overlooking range area for cattle in Mayer, Ariz., in this 1998 file photo. Is social media the Wild West of marketing tools?
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So what is the magic formula for effective marketing through social media?

The truth is that marketing through social media is wide open at this time. The best approach is to experiment and see what works best for your business model. Ask yourself several questions:

  • What is the nature of the relationship with my customers? Is it intimate and on-going? Is it a "drive by" relationship that is purely transactional? The answer will shape which type of social media works best and how you need to shape your message. Closer and deeper relationships require a more personal approach, such as blogging or using Facebook. Transactional relationships may work better with quick and easy media such as Twitter or even e-mail marketing.
  • What is the nature of the message? Is it technical and complex? Good old websites are still best for that. Quick reminders and "deals" work best with short blast media.
  • Who is your target market? Know how they think and how they make decisions. Facebook is not just for young people any more. The most common user is 54 year old women! Blogs are not popular with the very old or the very young -- and for different reasons. Older folks are generally not in the blog reading habit. Younger folks do not have the attention span.
  • What is your value proposition? If you are high end, high value be careful to not "cheapen" the message with the wrong social media. Don't use media that makes your product look like commodity, an impulse buy, etc. The marketing medium used and the format of the message needs to match what you are trying to communicate about your product.

Whatever you try, view it as an experiment. Here is a good example.

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The Which Wich food chain sent out an e-mail blast to those customers who had registered. It invited them to enter a creative, home-made promotional video.

The winner got a $100 gift card and some additional possible exposure in future promotions.

One of our students here at Belmont, Ross Hill, won this contest with the following video.

But here is where the wild west of social media gets even more interesting. While Which Wich clearly found a way to connect with their customers, Ross gets value out of it as well.

"The prize was a $100 gift card to Which Wich," said Ross. "But the biggest 'prize' was that I was going to be featured in their future advertising. I am still un-aware of the extent of the advertising I will be featured in; but any exposure is good exposure for me. Entering into the competition has opened more doors for me in the last few days than I would ever have imagined. I have received several phone calls pertaining to the possibility of doing jingles and commercial work. I guess I will just see where all of this goes!"

So the social media connection creates value for both Which Wich with its customers are Ross for his emerging business model.

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