Integrating Effective Social Media Strategies into the Marketing MixThe Key to integrating Social Media into the traditional Marketing Mix is the “willingness” to develop new and different relationships with people. If we closely examine the 4 P’s of the traditional Marketing Mix Model - Product, Price, Place and Promotion, we discover the primary objective of marketing has always been to develop a stronger connection with the people who comprise our target markets.
A decade ago, we were all focusing on the primary objective of Relationship Marketing – building stronger and more meaningful relationships with customers and potential customers.
Today, we find ourselves trying to take advantage of Social Media Marketing – the next step in the evolutionary development of companies looking for the “best” and most effective marketing strategy to connect with their target audiences. This raises the question – How much has marketing really changed in the last fifty years? From the beginning, the basic objective of every Effective Marketing Strategy has always been the same – establish or develop stronger connections or relationships with people.
Social Media Marketing – The next step in creating New Marketing RelationshipsI recently expressed the following opinion on a Social Media Blog Post – “I believe we are in the Toddler Phase of Social Media Marketing. Some companies will walk and talk faster than others - but we ‘ALL’ want to walk.” While not intending to “Coin a Phrase” - the more I thought about it, the more I realized how accurately it describes the growing pains most companies are experiencing in trying to integrate effective Social Media Programs into their 2012 Marketing Mix Strategies.
Being a Social Media Toddler should be viewed as a “good” thing. We are all “Social Media Toddlers” when it comes to Integrating Social Media Marketing into the Marketing Mix. The more we experience the positive effects of Social Media Marketing, the more inclined we are to take advantage of Social Media Strategies in new and different ways.
Some Marketing Consultants have also started to utilize the phrase “Re-inventing Social Media” as a possible solution to some of the challenges associated with Social Media Marketing. I believe it’s a little premature to re-invent something many companies still don’t fully understand. The greatest challenge associated with Social Media Marketing involves the integration of Social Media Strategies into the mix of our more traditional marketing strategies.
Effective Social Media Marketing: How should Social Media be integrated into 2012 Marketing Strategies?If we employ one of Albert Einstein’s aphorisms to examine the impact of Social Media on traditional marketing strategies, the resulting premise might be the best starting point for any company trying to ascertain the importance of integrating Social Media Marketing into their 2011 - 2012 Business Marketing Strategies.
Social Media without an effective Marketing Strategy is Lame; however, Marketing without an Effective Social Media Strategy is Blind.
Regardless of whether your company likes or currently believes Social Media Marketing is an effective business strategy, one thing is absolutely certain - Social Media is “Real” and smart companies will start to take advantage of it, some sooner than others.
If we simply search Google for - Social Media Marketing, one will find more new strategies and ideas coming online every day. This tells me many businesses are still in the Toddler Phase of developing an effective approach to Social Media Marketing. Similar to toddlers learning to walk and talk, our natural business instincts tell us Social Media might be an advantage in generating new business; however our uncertainty over unknown negative consequences creates an atmosphere of cautious indifference.
Certain unanswered questions only create more uncertainty; such as, What corporate resources should be devoted to Social Media Marketing? What are the negative implications associated with integrating Social Media into the Marketing Mix? These and numerous other questions need to be addressed before any company has the “willingness” to completely integrate Social Media into their overall Marketing, Media Advertising and Internet Marketing Strategies.
Social Media & Marketing Integration – The three categories of Social Media ToddlersThe first category of Social Media Toddlers includes companies that are aggressively integrating Social Media Programs into most of their Business Marketing Strategies. They have started to experience some short term benefits; however, they have also made some mistakes along the way. The key component of their strategy is willingness. They might be described as Social Media risk takers. They are not afraid of making some initial mistakes – but after falling down, they pick themselves up, evaluate the consequences, and keep moving forward.
This does not mean a company in this phase of their Social Media development is any better or worse than any other company. In some cases, these companies have to be more aggressive because they are either in the start up or rebuilding stages of their business development.
The second category of Social Media toddlers are the “cautious” companies. They have usually invested a great deal of time, money, and resources into developing their Brand Marketing or Product Branding Programs. Their marketing strategies have been successful and they are unwilling to risk the reputation of their Brand on Social Media strategies which often operate outside of their control.
The majority of companies fall into this category. Willingness is not the problem. Trust is the issue. They just want to fully understand the best way to integrate Social Media into their overall Marketing Mix – before they are willing to “Trust Social Media” as an effective strategy.
The third category can be described as the Social Media Skeptics. These companies manage their Marketing Campaigns under one simple premise – If something is not broken, don’t try and fix it. They vigorously defend traditional marketing ideas and reject any Social Media Strategy as just another “passing phase” in the world of internet marketing.
While respecting the success of certain companies in this category, history shows businesses resistant to new marketing ideas often remain stagnant over the long term. The likely outcome for most companies in this category of Social Media Skeptics – The smart ones will start to see their competition gaining ground on them and eventually say – better late than never.
The Key to Social Media Marketing – Integrating Social Media into Your Marketing MixThe various stages of Social Media development can never be restricted to three over-simplified categories; however, we believe these three categories can serve as a starting point for any company interested in evaluating their Social Media Strategies. Regardless of past mistakes, companies willing to objectively evaluate Social Media will find a strategy that works for them.
From Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to PR Marketing Releases, Video Optimization Strategies, and online Marketing Blogs, Social Media has the potential to generate significant new business if effectively integrated into your overall Marketing Mix.
In order to be fair to companies holding Social Media beliefs similar to those described in categories two and three; one final question needs to be addressed – What are the negative ramifications of Social Media Programs? This question can only be evaluated based on the unique circumstances of your individual business. For the most part, our experience has shown the answer to this question usually centers around three words – risk, control, and willingness.
Some Social Media platforms (Facebook being a good example) involve giving up some measure of control over what is being said and written about your company, products, and services. The key to integrating an effective Social Media Strategy into your Marketing Mix is the “initial willingness” to take certain marketing risks in order to achieve the business rewards.
As with any marketing strategy, a balanced approach to integrating Social Media into your overall Marketing Mix, developed consistently over the long term, should enhance the effectiveness of your overall marketing objectives.