In a recent article posted on the eMarketing group on LinkedIn they listed “5 Social Marketing Disasters”. I found this list interesting, but didn’t necessarily agree with all of these being categorized as “disasters”. If you have a proper online community, then some of these “disasters” can actually benefit your business, but they need to be done right.
Take disaster number 1, “Creating too many groups, pages, etc”. Now, I agree with this concept to some extent, but also know there’s an opportunity here if you do have a need for multiple social sites: Integrate them on an online community. A quote from the article states “there are occasions where niche marketing may require several pages, but each page/group you have will have to be promoted individually. Additionally sub pages can cannibalize from your main company page or group.” But, based on a recent presentation at the Corporate Social Media Summit by Whole Foods head of marketing Bill Tolany, their company actually benefits by having local branches build social sites that support their local community events and promotions while still connecting with the main Whole Foods brand social site (we’ll talk more about promotions in a minute).
If you have individual locations or products that each would benefit from a social site, then find a way to have one online community that brings them all together under the same consistent look, feel and messaging. So your whole network would be brought together under one parent community but visitors would be able to navigate through targeted content in specific categories as well, making this a really robust and valuable community that they would likely return to again and again.
Take theknot.com as an example. As a main online community it provides women with everything from wedding dresses to vendors to personalized M&M’s. But, within the site there are sub-groups by category: wedding location, budget, style or color scheme, or life status. This is smart, because even though people have more specific, targeted interests and needs they are still always on the main online community site, and more likely to “cross over” into another section or group so seamlessly, they may not even realize it. This is cross-pollination – not cannibalism – and is online community success in the making.
By cross pollinating social groups, links, content and more on your online community, the more your SEO – and brand – will boost. Now, I agree it can be a “disaster” if many different social sites are created haphazardly with no consistent messages or branding, but if you organize the site content and streamline your messages and discussions you are only doing your visitors a service by giving them everything they need in one place.
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Disaster #2: “Building your Facebook likes by using contents/give-a-ways”
From first glance, this implies that a company should not use a social site to run promotions or boost a band of followers, and after reading Facebook’s policy on promotions, I can see why this article discourages it. But, that’s not to say that companies shouldn’t use these types of promotional campaigns to build their followers, they just need to host them on their online community and then bring people from their other social sites to the online community to learn more and participate. This will boost their “band of followers” on the online community by bringing everyone together on one site rather than managing communications to a disperse network of followers.
Facebook strongly limits the ways a company can run promotions on their site, but having a promotion or campaign is a great way to boost your brand, audience and even revenue (read about Jabra’s recent campaign which made them $500k in 3 months as an example). My suggestion would be to launch a promotion on an online community, not your company website (company websites are almost always viewed as biased, salesy portals rather than objective educational resources) and direct people from your social sites to the online community like “go to our community to learn more about X deal”. This way, you’re avoiding Facebook’s strict policies but still bringing people together into one streamlined portal while boosting your brand.
These are just my ideas- what are some ways you’re running promotions or campaigns online? Do you struggle with having too many disperse social sites?
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