The evolution of the Web has in turn led to a marketing revolution. The change is not just in technology but in culture. Hard selling has been replaced by social engagement. Instead of indiscriminately shouting sterile corporate marketing messages at people who may or may not be interested in your product or service, today you can find people who are already interested in what you have to offer, by tapping into pre-existing online communities of interest – or even by creating your own. In today’s competitive marketplace you need to be findable. You need to go where your customers are, and engage them in conversation.
You need to go where your customers are.
This is a shift from ‘push’ marketing to ‘pull’ marketing, where we are attracting people towards us with engaging, interesting, valuable content that they will seek out. If you can tap into those communities of interest, you won’t ever need to sell again – people will come looking for you.
You might think of social marketing it as permission-based marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, or conversational marketing. One phrase I came across a little while ago is martini marketing – in the sense of the 1970s Martini TV ad that used the strapline: ‘any time, anyplace, anywhere’. That really sums up how marketing should work these days – going where your market is, reaching them with content they want, when and where they want you to. The rise of the mobile Web means this is now often on the move. This is a shift away from megaphone marketing – randomly shouting your message at a heterogeneous mass of people who may or may not be interested in what you have to say. By using social media, you are making yourself visible to people who are already interested in what you have to say. You can tap into these communities of interest, engage them with useful content, and build a relationship with them.
Social media marketing works for small businesses because it focuses on building customer relationships rather than sterile marketing campaigns. Resist the temptation to use that safe, impersonal corporate voice – stick your head above the parapet and be yourself!
And there is an advantage to being small. Because social media is a personal medium where authenticity matters, it is not always easy for big corporations to use. It’s perfect if you are a small business or entrepreneur: you can build trust and make connections by using your personality and being genuine. The social media marketing revolution has arrived, and you can be part of it.
This post is an extract from the Introduction to the 2nd edition of Get Up to Speed with Online Marketing. Read the full Introduction and Chapter 1 here.