Social Media 2010: Online Community Building With Christina Kerley*
Recently the Libation team caught up with social media specialist Christina Kerley (aka "CK") and asked her to share some thoughts about social media in 2010 - and about how businesses everywhere need to have their marketing strategies prepared to capitalize on this next major wave of online opportunity.
CK, how would you characterize the business arena of social media marketing today?
We're at the end of the beginning now. 2009 was an important year for the maturing of social media marketing as an established tool for business. Reliable studies show that half of surveyed companies began allocating marketing budgets for social media in 2009. Virtually all companies now are preparing to either increase existing budgets or integrate social media into their marketing plans in 2010. Businesses are taking online social media seriously and realizing that they can't afford to not have a plan in place.
It's an exciting time, without a question! Marketers are still finding their way in terms of standards for measuring results, and in determining best practices for program management. But with consumers everywhere increasingly extending and enhancing their lives online - at home, at work, in their cars, on the move with the latest generation smartphones - social media will soon be the framework that all other marketing strategies must fit within. Businesses everywhere are discovering that now.
What do you see as the most significant business trend for social media marketing in 2010?
What my clients are asking about most - and what I'm asked most often to present, when I speak at conferences - is the issue of integration. Individual social media systems and technologies such as Facebook or Twitter may come and go. But the underlying business need to keep up with the latest technology advances, and to effectively integrate them into existing marketing, sales, R&D and public relations practices.. that is a long term trend that will only deepen with time.
Businesses are working hard now to learn how to assemble the talent, training, outside vendor relationships and internal ROI measurement processes necessary to build successful social media programs. An effective social media strategy means so much more than jumping onto the currently trendy online social network. For companies serious about succeeding in the social media arena, integration is the key concern today. How to put the whole picture together.
What are the most common misconceptions held in business today about social media marketing?
Honestly, there are plenty of them. But I'd say that the big one is the idea that "social media" automatically equals "free", particularly in comparison to paid advertising. While social media represents one of the least expensive set of tools, technologies and platforms available to marketers today, the low financial cost comes at a tradeoff: corresponding investments of time. Social media programs aren't quarterly campaigns, or driven by product launches or special events. They are ongoing, and every day. Businesses need to be aware that in order to succeed, they must be prepared to devote regular time to it.
The second most common misconception out there is that social media marketing is only for certain types of businesses or markets, appropriate to some and not to others. All businesses benefit from listening to their customers. And by being aware of what their customers are saying about them. With the right brand monitoring program in place, companies can then turn this information into the intelligence necessary to build better products, innovate new offerings and gain valuable competitive advantages.
No matter the industry, market, product or service, every business should have a program in place to monitor their brands online in today's social media. As the saying goes: failing to plan is planning to fail. Every business should be prepared to devote the resources necessary to safeguard their brands in today's rapidly developing digital social marketplace.
What do you recommend to businesses eager to succeed with social media marketing in 2010?
First, learn the rules before picking up the tools. The great irony of social media marketing is that while the tools are very simple to use, the modern customer-led digital marketplace is extremely complex. Too many marketers dive headfirst into that environment before really learning how to swim - and then they sink. Learn the new practices before developing your programs.
Second, treat your free social media programs as valuable offerings in their own right, rather than just opportunities to promote your paid products and services. Focus on impact over volume, on building a single highly useful and integrated platform rather than spreading yourself too thin trying to use too many social media tools at once. Make your social media program a true service to your audience.
Finally, don't think of social media as a one-way broadcast medium like TV, radio, websites and print. Social media isn't so much a marketing "channel" as it is a set of technologies around which communities of like-minded people form and grow. Use the tools to engage in dialogue, foster idea exchanges and build relationships. Give your customers a place, and they'll reward you in kind.
Lounge Lizard Worldwide has joined forces with Christina Kerley to deliver cutting edge, effective social media strategy and training services to our clients around the globe. Would you like to learn more about how Lounge Lizard can help your business succeed in today's online social landscape? Contact our office today for more information.
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Starting The New Year With The Big Picture
The new year is here and business is picking up. Companies everywhere are evaluating their market positions and strategies. Innovation, idea and bold inspiration are coming together with the latest digital technologies to cast light on the big picture: the coordination of instruments to create a symphony of success in 2010.
We at Lounge Lizard Worldwide look forward to guiding you towards market dominance in the coming year. So stay tuned - we at the Libation have some great topics on tap, from mobile convergence to the latest innovations in social media planning and interactive design.
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