I’m asking three questions of some of leaders in the field of social media marketing and this is what I learned.
Today: Cheryl Burgess, Managing Partner at Blue Focus Marketing – a social branding consultancy that was the winner of MarketingSherpa's 2012 Reader's Choice Award - "Best Social Media Marketing Blog" – and who is on Twitter as @ckburgess:
"Communication is absolutely essential in order to succeed as a social marketer," says Cheryl Burgess.
"At its core, it means communicating among all the different departments in a business," she says.
However, a brand’s customers don’t see a company as a series of departments; they see it as a unified front.
"This means all employees must be truly unified behind the scenes," says Burgess.
"If not, a brand risks presenting an inconsistent, potentially schizophrenic message."
Strong communication also implies the ability to court influential people in your audience, whether that’s other business professionals or potential customers willing to help spread your message, she says.
"Here, strong communication also means strong listening skills," says Burgess. "You have to keep your ear to ground and know where to spend your time in order to get the most bang for your marketing buck.
"According to Burgess, a successful marketing message will invariably take on a life of its own, one not necessarily expected when the campaign was first designed.
"The best social marketers aren’t afraid of this," she says. "In fact, they embrace it and do what they can to further this process.
"In other words, they don’t act like a robot, blindly following 'the plan' until the campaign has run its course.
"They let the campaign take its own course, following it where it wants to go and clearing more space for it along the way.
"This organic approach ensures the presentation and execution of another key trait of social marketing: authenticity," says Burgess.
And, how important is social marketing as part of the marketing mix?
"It’s becoming more important every day," says Burgess. "No marketing campaign should be without a social component. A 30-second commercial, for instance, shouldn’t be the beginning and ending of a campaign. You will only reach a small part of your audience, and you won’t be offering them any chance to engage."
She says good examples of this are the recent Old Spice commercials, which were so successful they helped redefine the concept of "manliness" in pop culture.
"While the commercials themselves were incredibly iconic and memorable, Old Spice made sure the level of engagement went much further than that," says Burgess.
"The Old Spice Guy engaged fans daily on Twitter, and answered fan mail on YouTube.
"Old Spice made sure its message was everywhere, and users ate it up."
What do you think? How important will social marketing be in the future and what MUST students know?
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Social Marketing: Mark Schaefer on What Students Must Know