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Social Media Marketing – Good idea or not?

Social media marketing, if nothing else, has got the management science and PR guys raving about it. Those in other industries, notably advertising and sales, aren’t so sure. For all the babble, sales are looking pretty thin on the ground. Angry Birds might be making waves, but if you’re in a real business, like IT Support, you couldn’t say that social media marketing has exactly gone viral overnight.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing issues:
Social media happens to be just that- Social media. People are there to have fun, not to go shopping. The big news is a new game, an app, or somebody posting something in that strangely ephemeral area called the marketplace, where finding anything seems to be a matter of luck.

Even the definition of social sites is pretty vague, and rather limited to Facebook analogies. Other sites, like Second Life, have had marketing successes, although you’d have to say in the most esoteric ways. World of Warcraft has its own currency, and it’s a social site in its own way. Its main marketing is itself. LinkedIn is the original social site, and nobody could call it a hotbed of commercial activity.

The problem is that marketing isn’t particularly geared to this market, which can get up and leave whenever it gets bored or finds something more interesting. This is the medium that’s taken over from TV, after all, and it’s bigger than TV these days.

Market research is having a ball, finding stats for subjects which people didn’t even know existed until recently. But when you get to ideas like market reach and market penetration, the whole paradigm is different.

For instance:

  • Reach whom? The Facebook market alone is nominally twice the size of the US domestic market, and far more diverse. There’s no target.
  • What are you supposed to be “penetrating”? Again, this is a very ephemeral, highly mobile target audience. The fact that people play Farmland doesn’t mean they want to buy tractors.
  • How does marketing connect with the big social sites effectively? What are the real demographics, and how do you market to them?

The “Four Ps”, reborn?

It’s starting to look like marketing hasn’t done its homework. The “Four Ps” can be applied in cyberspace, and they haven’t been, so far.

The Four Ps are:

  • Price
  • Product
  • Positioning
  • Promotion

As a matter of fact, there’s not many excuses for pro marketers not thinking of this angle. To sell anything in cyberspace, you have to have a lot of clear parameters. A lot of people refuse to buy anything where they don’t see a PayPal sign. They won’t buy on eBay without a lot of guarantees, either.

This is the real commercial environment online, and it has nothing to do with “social” behavior. It’s business. People are spending money, and they want information. The Four Ps are back in business on the social sites, and unless they’re visible, nobody’s going to buy anything.

Author Bio: If you’re marketing  Business IT Support, you don’t start a cheerleading squad. You show your product to the right audience, on business terms. Do that, and the social sites will be a lot more sociable to marketing.

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