Social Media: Marketing Myths and Universal Truths
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the May issue of FS sister publication eM+C. It’s written for for-profit e-marketers, but the information is equally applicable to nonprofits looking to increase their presence and fundraising power online.
Social-media marketing opportunities proved to be viable additions to existing online advertising strategies for many of the top brand marketers in 2007. But the seeming complexity of these opportunities and the variety of social-networking sites and online communities available still are difficult hurdles for many marketers to clear.
Challenges such as structuring the appropriate campaign for target audiences, measuring engagement and results, and proving ROI still remain for social-media marketing. But many of these perceived challenges are, in fact, based on myths rather than real-life truths about the potential for success.
What is social media?
At its highest level, social media is defined as the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives with each other. The focus of the interactions can be personal interest, consumer-oriented or business-to-business.
Marketers are adapting to social media in a number of ways. Tactics include transforming customers into fully vested brand champions by adding social-media tools — like blogs, discussion forums and wikis — to their existing Web sites, as well as exploring existing online communities that can offer the ability to target audiences beyond existing customer bases.
The world of social media can be an extremely valuable tool in targeting prospects — as many marketers have discovered. According to an October 2007 survey of 116 senior marketing professionals, San Mateo, Calif.-based digital marketing optimization solutions provider Coremetrics discovered that 78 percent of respondents view social-media marketing as a way to gain a competitive edge. Yet, only 7.75 percent of total online marketing budgets are allocated to social-networking sites. This disconnect between the recognized value of social-media marketing and current budget allocation reflects the perceived risk and learning curve that marketers associate with advertising through any new medium. But a closer look at some of the myths and truths of social-media marketing shows that many of these risks can be minimized through a deeper understanding of the opportunity at hand.