Create buzz and develop your relationships
Marketing technology has changed, but have marketers changed their operational model enough to follow suit? Or are we jamming the proverbial square peg of 20th Century marketing practices to fit the round hole of new marketing demands? Every company has a web site now. Every company sends out blast e-mails. Every marketer is becoming an “expert” on social media marketing and various networking techniques, but only a few companies seem to be getting enough out of it so far.
But that isn’t because of a lack of desire. The value proposition of social media is compelling. No longer tied exclusively to twentieth century technologies like advertising, public relations and sales collateral, a company can now use the Internet, social media, and advanced direct marketing strategies to find customers, win their business and ultimately keep them as customers over the long term. The advantages of these tactics are readily apparent:
Companies “get it”. Social media marketing as a concept makes sense both from an efficacy and economic point-of-view. The problem is, once one has built a social media program, how can one keep publishing new material that people actually want to see? Everyone wants to be social media marketers – but might not be set up to deliver what social media needs to be successful: a lot of content delivered constantly.
Typically, marketers and agencies have optimized their process to deliver finely tuned messages, value propositions and persuasive arguments through a limited number of advertisements, press releases, brochures and direct mail pieces. Every word and every image is evaluated before it’s published. The nature of the older mediums allowed marketers to take their time to hone messages – and to create messaging at the highest possible level of polish. Those’s why marketing departments, agencies and others are so effective at creating well-designed, thoughtful web sites – but sometimes have difficulty adding new content to it every week.
If the old marketing model is like the highly crafted output of luxury artisans, then the new marketing model requires a mindset much closer to that of the daily newspaper. Social media, like a newspaper has to produce interesting compelling communication every day – or else lose the interest of their readership. Therefore every part of operation and practice has to be optimized – not for the creation of literary art – but to produce provocative stories fast and frequently.
In 1938, Evelyn Waugh published a satire of the business of journalism titled “Scoop”. The fictional newspaper that his hapless hero worked for was called “The Daily Beast” – interestingly made non-fiction in 2008 when Tina Brown and Barry Diller started their on-line “newspaper” named in its honor. It is, perhaps, the most appropriate analogue for the news business: a great hungry beast that has to be fed with fresh content every day.
That’s why, with social media, the marketing process needs to be optimized to “feed the Beast”. The central question is how to cost effectively organize to deliver new – and interesting – content constantly. Instead of focusing exclusively on refining messages, or producing highly polished media, marketing organizations need to figure out how to produce a large and regular volume of blog articles, web videos and Twitter posts.
(There is some question about how frequent social media content should be – should it be every day? weekly? every month? A reader pointed out to me recently that not only were daily postings difficult to produce, they might also be difficult for readers to keep up with. I agree. In most cases, weekly or fortnightly postings for businesses are not only more reasonable to produce, but more reasonable for regular readers to digest.)
21st century marketing, like the newspapers of the 20th century, is a Beast – and the Beast must be fed.
So how can it be done? Fortunately, newspapers are a very good model for how to produce material. Three crucial elements of their model in particular are worth examining and adapting to marketing practice:
If a marketing group is able to adopt the operational model of a newspaper and focus on generating provocative stories assembled from the good ideas of their entire community, they will have a much better chance to continue feeding the beast long after the initial excitement of a new web site fades.