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5 Web 2.0 Marketing Strategies

In Part One of this two-part series, we quizzed Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital, Greg Verdino of crayon and marketing consultant and strategist Amanda Watlington on social media trends: what works, what doesn't and what has to change in your corporate culture to become a successful Web 2.0 marketer. (Clue: Attitude adjustment.)

1. "Social media" means communication is no longer business as usual.

The rise of social media – made possible by Web 2.0 tools such as blogging, podcasting, social networks (MySpace, Facebook, branded corporate sites), microblogging (Twitter, FriendFeed) and user-generated content sites (YouTube, Flickr) – means you're no longer the only message sender in the game. Your customers are finding their voice and using it, too.

Amanda Watlington: "Social media is the idea of marketing as a conversation."

Steve Rubel: "Social media is obsolete. It was a wonderful term for a long time, but it's obsolete because there's been a blending of worlds. ... There once was a clear delineation between those who create content in the social sphere and the traditional media sphere. That's gone."

Greg Verdino: "Social media is really about people connecting with people. Lots of social media people are coming to hate the term, because of the term 'media.' It causes marketers to think it's something to buy. In fact, there are things to buy, but agencies got complacent and thought putting a banner ad on MySpace or a fan page on Facebook meant you're doing social media marketing… When you think about social media marketing, you should ask yourself, 'How can the brand better empower the consumer to connect with my company to solve problems in ways that implicitly benefit the brand?'"

2. Blogging is the beginning of social media marketing, but beware of blog burnout.

Steve Rubel: "You have to think about how you integrate it with all of your marketing. It's not just 'We have this blog.' Great! What is the strategy? You have to think about… how it links up with your traditional marketing and where it leads to and what people want to hear from you."

Amanda Watlington: "Blogging is baseline. If you don't blog as a company, don't talk about social media. You're not even in the race. It's like showing up at the starting line in a '52 Chevy and saying, 'Let's drag-race!'"

Greg Verdino: "The role the blog plays in social media is changing. What I've seen suggests that blogging is up but readership is down. The amount of traffic on blogs is down. It used to be that any post on any topic got a few comments, especially a hot topic. Now, I'll do a blog post, and someone sends me a Twitter message or I get an email or a Facebook wall post. The conversation is becoming distributed. The blog is the hub in a sense, and the way people interact with the blog goes beyond the post."

3. Social media requires you to think differently about who creates the content, both within your company and from people who are talking to and about you.

Greg Verdino: "Blogs are inherently very powerful social media tools. But fake blogs or branded social networks that you control too tightly will backfire on you. With a lot of these new tools, people read about a tool as the next cool thing and they leap in without taking the time to understand how the consumer uses these tools or what they want to do with them."

Amanda Watlington: "(At a recent seminar) one of the questions was 'What do you do when people say bad things about you?' 'You listen.' They are going to say them about you anyway… If you're doing the kinds of things that get customers to say ugly things about you, they're saying them already, and you're fooling yourself if you think they aren't."

"Go (within your company) where there's a champion. Go where your strengths are, and find the right people to do the job. Don't make someone blog who hates to write. Don't designate a person as 'You're going to write the blog.' Maybe you did this, and the initiative was a failure. The failure was an alignment problem, because you got the wrong guy for the job."

"Instead, say 'I want someone who's passionate' and then give them guidelines about how to work and let them go on their way. Some people love to take pictures and post them to Flickr or YouTube. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand you have to align your resources in a way that makes sense."

4. Social media as a cross-channel phenomenon, Take One: Picture social media as a hub with spokes, rather than a two-way radio.

Steve Rubel: "One thing that's working is the ability to have a launching point and then activating it in other social spaces. It's a collaborative effort that builds in multiple spaces."

"Brita (water-filter maker) developed an insight that people are fed up with bottled-water bottles, at how they're thrown away rather than recycled… They launched the Filter for Good site where you pledge not to consume water bottles. They had an offer for the Brita filter pitcher and a Google map inside Facebook showing where people are pledging. They got 50,000 pledges."

"The hub here is the website and the spokes are where you plug into other communities. None of this was promoted through paid media. It was targeted through Facebook."

5. Social media as a cross-channel phenomenon, Take Two: Social-media marketing has many ways to measure effectiveness. It's not so easy to answer the question, "Where's the money?"

Greg Verdino: "Social media really is a direct marketing vehicle. A Facebook fan page with 10,000 fans for mass-media brands might be considered a failure because it doesn't move your product where you needed it to go, but you should look at (someone becoming a fan) as opting in to an extended deeper relationship. Now, ask yourself, 'How do I take this community even deeper?' It's an evolution of the mailing list."

"People will share lots of personal information on social networking sites, but they won't tolerate (traditional) direct marketing or telemarketing. They're saying, 'I don't want people using my data, but if I opt in and engage through a social channel, and the brand engages me properly, I do walk away with a better experience.

The channel is loyalty marketing or a CRM play. Very few people have proven out the premise: How do you tie their participation in this group to some kind of ROI? It's still a gray area. On the flip side, people joined your brand and blogged about it. People are talking about you, and you can chalk that up for awareness. Ultimately, the industry will come to agreement on metrics, about how to measure cause and effect in social channels."

Steve Rubel: "You can look at reach and frequency. It works on banner ads and rich media. You look at the engagement side of metrics. You can measure in interesting ways, such as reputation and trust. Does your use of these tools get you a closer relationship with the customer? My company does an annual survey called the Trust Barometer, which measures levels of trust in different audiences. You can look at what people are saying online about you."

"Also, measure by looking at what people are searching for. Conversation tracking and analysis statistics show that 5% to 30% of the audience is creating content activities, but everyone's Googling. There's a wealth of data there. You have to take all of these things together and see what picture emerges for you."

Amanda Watlington: "Have marketers been able to figure out how to interpret the results of their social media marketing? That's been a big problem. The result you get in Place A might be the result of Effort B. We expect to be able to isolate our channels, but how do you know which click drove that sale? …"

"We have applied too vigorously some of the metrics of direct marketing to the Web. In traditional direct marketing, we could track that piece of paper because the order was written on it, or you had the 800-number someone called. But there isn't the same one-to-one relationship in social media. We are finally looking at how to break (a sale) apart and how to understand who gets which part of the credit… Figure out how you're going to measure something, and then experiment and see what the results are."

The Takeaway:
If you want to succeed in social media marketing, you'll have to be ready to change the way you listen to customers, talk with them and measure your interactions with them. The revolution hasn't taken over the world yet, but the crowds are gathering outside your gate.

Coming up in Part Two:

Successful examples of social media marketing, how the role of the the "curator" returns to help overloaded readers sort out the information they really want and some of the pitfalls to beware.


Link to Part Two, "Web 2.0 Expert Interview Series Part Two" http://www.wdfm.com/marketing-viewpoints/web2_2.php

Steve Rubel:
Personal blog: http://www.micropersuasion.com

Amanda Watlington:
Regular contributor to Search Engine Watch: http://searchenginewatch.com

Greg Verdino:
Personal blog: http://gregverdino.typepad.com