We are blessed with (beset by?) an amazing array of communications media in today’s modern world. You can deliver a message in traditional ways (newspaper, magazine, radio, television, billboard, direct mail), or through an assortment of web-based channels (web sites, e-mail, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).
But beware! It is easy to get caught up in how to make contact and lose sight of what you are saying. No matter how you deliver it, the content of your message is what makes things happen.
I recently met with a prospect about starting a social media program for his company. He was skeptical, saying that he had young people on staff who could easily set up Twitter and Facebook accounts without having to pay an outside agency. Perfectly true, as most social media is free and open to all.
“But what,” I asked, “will you say?” As adept as his young staffers are with web-based media, they do not have the experience or insight into what the message should be. Nor do they have the discipline to consistently develop and deliver compelling information to fans and followers who sign up.
If you are going to use social media for marketing purposes — and I think most businesses should — you must make sure your tweets, e-mails, posts and blog entries are:
1. Consistent with your brand image,
2. Contain information of value and interest,
3. Include a call to action,
4. Are compelling enough to elicit a measurable response.
Otherwise, you’ll be just another noisemaker on the web. Remember, just because the media is free does not mean you can afford to take it lightly. Rushing into a social media program without a plan and purpose-driven message is a waste of everybody’s time, and could actually backfire with web-savvy customers.
Go back to basics and remember my “Four I’s” of advertising. Every message should have impact in the form of a strong headline, subject line or tag. It should burnish your company’s image by being well-written and (when appropriate) having an attractive layout. The message must contain information that is interesting and not self-serving. And the message should be written so as to generate inquiries, which can be easily measured.
Keep these rules in mind every time you log on to tweet or post a blog entry. They will help you make the most of the amazing power of social media.