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Social Media Marketing Isn't a Popularity Contest

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

For social media marketers it must be about monetizing their social media activities. Part of the inspiration for this approach comes from Wilson Kerr who made a stellar presentation last week on the subject of monetizing mobile media—more about that later. David Carter’s presentation the week before, based on the Social Funnel ebook from Awareness, laid the groundwork. In my blog post I quoted Jeremiah Owyang as saying not to show engagement metrics to C-level executives; they are interested in business results, not a popularity contest.

I watch social media marketers in all markets struggle with this issue. So I decided to pick out one case study each from B2B, B2C and NP. I’ve intentionally chosen small, not terribly well known companies. It may sound easy for Dell to make sales with its Twitter program and Taco Bell to sell chalupas and burritos with coupons distributed on its Facebook page, although it’s less easy than it sounds. But my point is that small companies, even individuals, can do important things in social media if they keep their eyes on the prize—monetizing their activities.

The biggest monetization opportunity in B2B is far and away the generation of qualified leads. Breaking Point is a cyber security firm who says its products “harden the resiliency of vulnerable converged networks and train cyber warriors” to prevent and deter cyber attacks. Are your eyes glazing over already? It’s incredibly important but at first glance it may not seem to be a candidate for social media marketing. Using a corporate blog, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and a revamped PR strategy, they joined in the online conversation, staking out a position as a respected industry source. After 6 months, 75% of their leads were coming from the inbound traffic generated by these social media activities. Their blog is well organized—a video, a list of topics, the appropriate social media chicklets, and posts that only an IT security professional could love. That is their target audience, after all! Read the details and 5 other excellent B2B case studies in the HubSpot/Marketing Sherpa presentation.

Depending on your age and gender, you may be equally unmoved by the funky shoes that Canadian B2C entrepreneur John Fluevog sells online and from a growing number of retail stores in Canada and the US. According to Australian marketer Ginger, whose blog is credited with this captivating image, Fluevog reported that sales increased 40% in 2009, the year of their entry into social media marketing. If you search the corporate name, John Fluevog Boots & Shoes Ltd., you’ll find an array of social media activities including reviews and a lot of local marketing using Google’s Places. If you look at their Facebook wall, you see a few administrator posts but mostly customers showing off their shoes and loving them. On their Twitter page they cross promote offers seen on the Facebook page and actively respond to customer questions and issues. This nicely integrated social media program (see the links on their wall page) takes time, but not a lot of money. It’s within reach of any small business.

The social media space can be productive for non-profit (NP) marketers also. Dave Morin’s birthday wish is a great story of what a single individual can accomplish. His wish on October 14, 2010 was to raise $10,000 for the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital by the end of the year. He actually raised the $10k within 24 hours! The fundraising continues, with almost $14K to date and mention of a new initiative focusing on children’s health worldwide. In the interest of full disclosure, Dave Morin is hardly a novice. He was a Facebook executive and headed their Causes fund-raising function, which now operates separately. One can assume that he had a large network of Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections with whom to share his message. If you look at the list of contributors, though, most of the $14K has come from small donors. As you can see on the Causes page the largest donor is $1K and I only saw two of those. Reaching many small, often new, donors is the power of online fundraising. I look forward to the day when I see a case history of a NP who used traditional methods to grow social media small donors to traditional large donors and bequests. That should happen over time for NP organizations who harness the power of social media marketing.

There it is—a three market perspective on monetizing social media marketing. Questions, comments and links to other case studies welcome!

Article first published in condensed form as Social Media Marketing Isn't a Popularity Contest on Technorati.
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