Monthly Archives: May 2011

Permission marketing in the social world

Like, follow and subscribe: three words that have redefined the permission marketing in the recent times. Permission marketing is where people give explicit permission to marketers to contact them. There’s a big shift in how people perceive marketers courtesy of the social world. A few years back getting yourself on the do not call list was a cool thing to do, today liking a page on Facebook and following a brand on Twitter is so neat.

Sounds great. Now you got permission to communicate with your customers. That’s amazing! But something is missing. What’s the problem? The biggest problem in social media is overcrowding. Stats suggest that an average active Facebook user likes two new pages every month.

So how can a marketer best leverage the permission provided by consumers in social media? The first thing marketers need to accept is that just having a large number of followers and friends on social network is not the real definition of success in this space. In fact this is just a small part of your social media campaign. That’s because of a couple of reasons. First, the probability of your consumers staying in regular touch with you is slim. The reason being out of hundreds of friends and dozens of brand that compete for attention every minute, the probability that your brand will get the attention is as close to zero as it can be. Second, 8 out of 10 conversations about your brand are happening outside of your turf. If a consumer had a good experience with your product, they write it on their wall. If they liked a movie, they tweet it normally without linking it to the movie’s Twitter account.

It is awesome that you got permission to talk to your consumers. The important thing is to make full use of it. There are a couple of ways you can do this. One is by focusing on an issue that the consumers want to learn more about. The probability that the consumer will pay attention to the issue you, the experts and others talk about is much more likely than anything else. Second, learn about your consumers. Gain insights around who they are. What they want. What’s missing. Why they are forming a certain perception. Why they like you and why they dislike you. Then use these insights to take actions that will make you reach closer to the consumers and gain the real permission to stay on top of their mind in the social world.

Put the issue at the center

Social media marketing is driven by the conversations people have with each other and with you (a brand). There are very few cases where people want to talk about a brand per se. People normally interact on an issue that is bothering them or is close to their heart. As a social media marketer, you got to understand the themes that the people are associating with your brand, with your products, and your industry and focus on that in your conversations.

For example, if you are a pharmaceutical company selling migraine drugs, you got to focus on the patients suffering from this chronic disease. As a pharma company, your focus while stirring the conversation on social media should be answering questions like how the patient can live a healthier life, what the patient should avoid eating or what kind of exercises they should do. The idea is to be the authority when it comes to migraine in the social world out there. Subtly branding these conversations or sponsoring the discussion with experts will provide you a couple of core advantages that you cannot enjoy otherwise. First, you will have a positive impression as far as pharma company in the industry selling drugs to fight migraine. Next time when the patient is consulting about which drug to take with a pharmacist or a physician, given a choice they will pick your drug over some other. Second core advantage is the mine of information that you as a pharma company will collect by being part of these conversations.  By extracting insights from these conversations you can find the core issues surrounding the disease, you can understand the selection criteria for a patient to pick a drug, you can engage with experts and get their opinion on your drug and take action on this in-depth market research information which otherwise is not available.

Put issue at the center. The same is true in many other cases. If you are selling a hybrid car, talk about how to preserve the nature and have a smaller carbon footprint. If you are in the business of detergent, stir conversations on how to better take care of those party dresses in off-seasons. The idea is to talk about what people are interested in talking about. Social media is a great platform for you to come closer to the consumer,  understand what their needs are and how you can meet them. Leverage it by being part of it and putting the consumers and their needs at the center.