Now that we’re a couple of months into 2012, it’s more important than ever to assess your business plans for the year regarding online marketing to ensure you are hitting the high points and prepared for problems that may crop up along the way. To help, some of our top contributors have looked into the future and shared their vision of what will be vital to focus on for continued success. In Part 1, we’ll share some viewpoints on social media and follow in Part 2 with paid search and Part 3 with mobile marketing. The complete piece, with observations on a number of other aspects of search engine marketing, can be found in our Spring 2012 issue of the magazine, which will be mailed this week (more info on that in a couple of days!).
Question: What do practitioners need to do to succeed with social media marketing this year? What is your preferred social media network for marketing and why?
David Rodnitzky — The biggest challenge I see with social media is opportunity cost. Should I spend my time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Quora, Klout, Pinterest, Google Plus, or something I’ve yet to even discover? Learning how to prioritize all of these channels will be key. My favorite social media network right now is LinkedIn, simply because it’s clear that everything that you do there is for the sake of business.
Ben Leftwich — Don’t be afraid to experiment with different social media marketing tactics — that’s the only way to find out for sure what works and what doesn’t. Facebook generally is better for B2C and ecommerce conversions, while LinkedIn is better for B2B. But if the goal is brand or product awareness, don’t discount Facebook for B2B or LinkedIn for B2C. Do organize your campaigns and ads to be as granularly targeted as possible (a unique value of Facebook and LinkedIn over Google PPC), and then customize the message for that group.
Jeff Quipp — Success in social media marketing involves either spending loads of time to become part of communities, or in creating remarkable content. Creating remarkable content is therefore a skill to be honed by all businesses. Actually, I don’t have a favorite social media marketing channel — I find they each have strengths and weaknesses.
Guy Hill — As an SEM pro, I don’t get into social much. But I will tell a story here. I inherited an ecommerce client in 2011 that had already been “helped” by a social media team. That team sucked up budget building a blog. They made “viral videos.” They had a Facebook page. Regardless of how well those efforts were implemented, the main website — you know, the gateway to actually selling product — was a complete mess. Basic shopping cart functions were broken. This is how many (if not most) marketing teams operate. They invest heavily in all the new stuff, and the “old” stuff is just too boring to work on — thus, no sales at all.
As we took on this client, we got rid of all that “social stuff.” This client was using their homepage as a portal, sending traffic out to the blog, to Facebook, to Twitter — all distraction away from the core mission of selling product. Very common.
My advice to online businesses is don’t let social suck the air out of your sales. You have direct marketing programs that consistently show positive ROI, but you won’t talk about them, because that one negative Twitter comment is taking up your whole week. Bring discipline back to your business and focus on revenue and steady gains in proven tactics.
Christian Arno — Many companies have neglected international social media up to now, but I think that could be starting to change. Twitter is a great way to share news and information, and get people talking about your company.
Rebecca Appleton — My preferred social media network is Twitter. It’s very easy to track impact through increased follow counts, hash tags, and trending topics without having to invest too much time or money in costly technologies and sophisticated analytics software.