When is the right time for start-ups to start social media marketing activity?

Right time to start social media marketing

A dilemma that many start-ups face today is the question “When do we start social media marketing outreach? Do we start before the launch of the product or after we are completely ready with our products and service offerings? To answer the question let us consider the analogy of a brick and mortar store. Every entrepreneur knows that in business it is all about location, location and location! Now, if you were to open a store in a mall’s forefront, you might get a modest footfall right on day one. On the other hand, it would be difficult to draw huge customers footfall on day one to a shop located in a corner or for that matter in a small alley on the street.

Similarly, in the virtual world Google can be considered a mall where everyone is trying to get onto the front page results of Google. With hundreds of thousands of websites getting launched each day it isn’t easy and only gets harder. The purpose of social media activities like blogging, developing a community on Facebook, engaging on other social networks is to develop word of mouth reach and visibility: not direct sales or leads as if often presumed. It’s a very organic process which takes a considerable amount of time to drive more awareness, more people talking about you or spreading the word about who you are or what you offer. It’s a brand building exercise, not a sales drive.

That said, for your brick and mortar store would you wait till it has completely opened doors or would you start telling your friends and relatives before that? If you don’t spread the word beforehand and build some excitement for the day you open, who will come to that grand opening and the days that follow? A similar concept applies to start-ups and social media campaigns for outreach. Ideally, you want to get the word out and start building some excitement before you launch so there is some traction as soon as you do go live. At the same time, you may want to hold off on activities like advertising, pay per click campaigns or going all out since you don’t want to spend on these activities until you are actually live. These are sales oriented activities, not brand building or visibility development.

An ideal time to start with social media outreach activities and building initial buzz would be a few (2-3) months in advance to the planned launch of your website/product. Too early and you may end up creating customers with nothing to sell. Too late and you could have a store open with no one that knows about it and a long road ahead to start building that awareness which is slow process in its initial days. Depending on the nature of your start-up, we would say start your outreach and community building activity just ahead of your launch so that you have had enough time to build a little rhythm with those activities so when you do launch, you’re not starting from scratch but looking to move your marketing activities to the next gear.

Content specialists are more than just writers!

The buzzword around every digital agency is content! Nothing sells and nothing moves if you don’t have good or great content. It is a common belief too that great content actually means just the words that you see spewn across the Web.

However, as the web has evolved so has the idea of content. The textual script has grown its skin and bones and now presents itself in many different forms. Although we do tend to spend a lot of time on the Internet, the attention span is quite less per page. Not everyone reads every word of what you have written / published. Blogs have changed form and along with interesting textual content also include tonnes of media. Right from a video, or a podcast, infographic.

In the mad mad rush of getting customers, getting views for your page and keeping them engaged, the kind of content you publish also makes a lot of difference. An average content writer now no longer is supposed to be eloquent with words only but should also have more skills to integrate good content with great presentation. To capitalise on the short attention span of the average user the key message of what you intend to publish needs to be supported by good content and presented in a great manner to lead to any effect.

Internet is now changed to a visually enticing media, with PC’s shrunk to size of laptops, tablets and smart phones and connectivity at anytime, it has become that much more difficult to grab the attention of the user. So although free content publishing platforms are open and available for all, it is that much more tedious to develop and groom a dedicated readership. Often is a case when great content lies wasted because it was not presented in a more user friendly manner.

Thus for web publishing, the job of  content writers is that much more multi-faceted, although they need to do an equivalent amount of research to verify facts, to solicit from right sources, to use their words right to get the message across. Now they have an added responsibility to present content creatively and intelligently.

Below are some examples of expressing a message visually:

Inforgraphic is a great way to disseminate essential information
Inforgraphic is a great way to disseminate essential information
Pictures always tell a great story!
Pictures always tell a great story!

 

The Dynamics Of Social Media Marketing Change Faster Than Mindsets

Change Is The Only Constant In The Social Web – Embrace It Or Die Trying

Change Or Die - The Dynamics Of The Social WebIt’s unfortunate, but it’s true. If you’re one to keep up with the every changing world of the web and marketing online you’ll probably know what I’m talking about. Social media and digital marketing has made major strides from being a sideline “fad” that some businesses dabbled with 6-8 years ago into a more mainstream focus area for a lot of brands and businesses today that are looking at it more seriously. In India, we’re still considerably in the early stages of leveraging online channels for marketing and despite some really great examples of success stories, the bulk of businesses and professionals have a long way to go on the maturity curve in terms of really understanding how it works to really use these channels correctly.

One of the biggest challenges – expectations & mindsets don’t change at the pace online marketing trends and technology changes at!

About 3 years ago, we managed to build a lot of traffic for an online retail brand and the core of the social media marketing effort was a blog with a highly organized publishing and editorial schedule. Some of the posts we did went viral on Digg, the SEO was effective, there were traffic spikes from StumbleUpon and traffic build up happened in a matter of a few months. 3 years on in 2013, Digg is barely one of the top social media channels, Google has changed it’s algorithm a number of times and virtually none of the strategies that worked back then, work to that effect today!

The introduction of Googles Panda and Penguin updates virtually turned the science of SEO on it’s head ensuring mass link-building tricks,  directory submissions and other short cuts to quick traffic are methods of the past. Not only do they not work, you can actually be punished or blacklisted for over-optimizing or indulging in SEO techniques to quickly boost results. Having a Facebook page with 1000 fans back in the day actually meant anything you posted had a reach of 1000 fans which is no longer true. Facebook has consistently restrained the actual reach of updates on brand or fan pages over the years to encourage paid promotions and it’s currently as low as 8-12%.  That means out of your 1000 fans, only 80-120 will actually see an update on your page and you need to pay Facebook if you’d like to extend that reach. Getting Google+ +1’s never meant anything back then but have an influence on what you do now.

Bottom line – The dynamics of the web and what works in terms of marketing something have changed drastically in a very sort span of time.

More importantly, they continue to change, every month, every week and everyday. What worked a few months ago very well, will not work for you now. However, most people have not or will not accept that fact since mindsets don’t change as quickly. As a result expectations of what should be done, how to go about things and what is realistically possible are badly skewed since they based not on current dynamics but past routes others have used to build their web presence. You often find a marketing head or business owner demand instant search traffic, 100’s of links to their website in a month, 1000’s of Facebook fans organically in days, a high Page Ranking in a matter of weeks and requests for “SEO magic” that web marketing unicorn stories are made of. To them, their demands seem perfectly rational since there are real live cases of so many that have used those methods to deliver returns. They cling on to expectations based on what worked then and not what might work now. These are unfounded expectations which won’t see the light of day like believing a one time search optimization effort will instantly lead to success or publishing a blog or having a Facebook page will instantly have people visiting it or liking their page just because there are a lot of people on the web.

All said and done, just because the dynamics of the web keep changing, it doesn’t mean nothing works either. It simply means one needs to be able to change course with these changes, constantly adapting and ensuring expectations align with times.

Those that are open to experimenting, trying different things and adapt with every passing week will eventually stay on top the ever-changing web.

Moments That Make The BuzzFactory Journey Worthwhile

Buzzfactory Hanging Out At Tj Brew WorksIn any entrepreneurial journey it’s really the little things that make journey seem worth it despite the challenges, struggles and odds that can work against where you’d like to head. The final days of last year (2012) offered one such moment which made me take a step back and realize we’ve made some strides we should be proud of as a company in a short span of just 4 to 5 months which is about when we made a conscious decision to rebuild a team with some clear objectives in mind.

It happened at a meetup organized by the Social Media Club local chapter in Pune on the 20th. The word was our very own Prasant Naidu would be speaking at the event on Social Media Marketing and having always looked forward to our discussions around the subject (which we reserve for Friday evenings) with Prasant, virtually the entire team turned up at the meet. What followed was a really interesting, participatory and engaging discussion around various aspects of social media marketing right from customization of content & approach across different mediums, noteworthy efforts by various brands, the fundamentals of being social online all the way to more detailed discussions around the future of mass data, insights and analytics generated by social media activity and how brands in future will harness this to deliver more personalized products and services or know consumers better.

It was great to hear from and interact with some of the others at the meet, have exchanges, share knowledge and be a part of this offline discussion. However, what was silently as gratifying for me personally as a Founder was sitting back and observing the others in our team (that made up roughly 30-40% of the small group of attendees) contributing to the discussions, citing examples, putting forward their own personal opinions or knowledge and sharing their understanding or perspective on a myriad of things that were discussed over cups of Lattes & Cappuccinos at the Costa’s Coffee that served as the venue for the evening. It may be a really tiny team by the general standards you’d associate with digital agencies or most companies for that matter but every one of them clearly have the passion, enthusiasm for what they do, individual perspectives and clearly “know their stuff”….and it shows. The moment arrived as everything wound up and everyone was standing, saying their goodbyes and someone (whose opinion I would value when it comes to social media & related topics) said “Neil…by the way…that’s a great team you have there” knowing that the bunch of us worked together.

Sometimes although you know something it takes someone else to say it before it dawns on you and just then I had a beaming moment like a proud father does knowing this is what it it’s all about for BuzzFactory as a social media and digital marketing agency. It’s been about building a really exceptional team, doing great work for clients and being a valuable part of their journey while being on ours too. Although 2012 started with some huge setbacks and unpredictable circumstances that were disappointing, it turned in the latter half ended on a high knowing we have something special here when it comes to the people & talent at BuzzFactory and there is a lot more to come. It’s moments like the one in coffee shop that serves as a reminder why we do what we do and makes it all worthwhile.

 

by Neil Sequeira

Why The Social Media Marketing Hat Is One Size Too Large For Startup Founders

Yes, the startup founder and founding teams are in the best position to handle their social media outreach and online marketing. However, whether they have the time and the bandwidth to do justice to an additional role as social media marketer is another question entirely. Statistics say that Facebook has over 800+ million users, Twitter over 100+ million and LinkedIn over 140+ million members. Question is ..are you a part of these social platforms? If you are (assuming you are not living in the stone
age), then:-

Do you have a consistent daily outreach, content plan and interaction across the social web? Or is it sporadic where you spend half an hour on Twitter one day and the next time you check your Twitter feed, a week has passed by. Or you have 3 blog posts go out one week and the next one follows two months from then?

Let’s say you are a Start-up and have a product or service ready and going. How would you market it? Let’s talk online. You have a website and you want to drive traffic and ultimately have a successful conversion rate. Bottom line is SALES. Social Media has become priority when it comes to marketing, getting the word out and driving more traction for your start-up and brand (at least it should be).
That means, it needs a dedicated long term invested effort regardless of whether it’s done by you, a colleague, other founding members, a dedicated employee or a third party agency.

Here’s a typical 8 hour day for someone that’s part of building a startup (not that such a thing exists):

  • Check emails
  • Respond to emails
  • Meet with coding team and go over what needs to be done
  • Interview time with a new candidate
  • Put together some design plans
  • Another candidate interview
  • Quick lunch
  • Go place an order for the new chairs needed
  • Create 2 proposals for partnership inquiries
  • Review some of the product development work
  • Check emails and answer them
  • Meet with a potential investor
  • Day is over!

Here’s the typical 8 hour day for a dedicated social media marketer-

  • Check Facebook, comments, updates, replies and statistics
  • Come up with a creative and action provoking Facebook update
  • Check Twitter account, reply to @Tweets, search related tweets, respond to them, greet followers, retweet them, engage with some of them directly and trigger conversations
  • Research facts and structure for a great blog post that can connect with people putting thoughts and ideas together.
  • Then draft the blog post, review, edit, optimize for keywords, add tags, links where applicable,format, add images with alt tags, proof read and publish (easily 2 hours from start to finish)
  • Start promoting the post, sharing to the Facebook page, LinkedIn Updates, Twitter. Use social bookmarking accounts to submit the post to. Re-share to communities and groups.
  • Reply to comments, track for relevant links, posts ,analyze results and traffic
  • Work on creating other interesting content like images that can be shared, polls, videos and original content that could be shared drive interest
  • Reply again to comments, address issues or brand related discussions, post updates, reach out to new followers. Work towards growing all social accounts.
  • Day is over!

The startup founders and employees life is a hectic one that implies you need to wear many hats. Social media outreach can be one of them and it’s possible to squeeze in a few minutes or even an hour into the busy schedule but execute on a consistent and dedicated social media marketing plan?

One must understand that regularly posting content and managing social media accounts is time consuming. And being a Start-up means you already have a lot on your plate. Of course, you can be Superman and manage it all, making Google your accomplice. Or probably have other employees multi-task and contribute some of their time. This is perhaps the best way to go about it if there are budget constraints and hiring a full time employee is out of the question. However, when the time comes to put together and execute on a social media marketing plan not just on the side but as a priority to build a more structured engagement..hire, delegate or engage a dedicated resource / agency that can work on it exclusively without the effort being a burden or relying on your own time because when it comes to this stage, it’s a hat that’s just too large to fit in with the rest.

How Investing In Developing An Online Presence Early Can Reduce Your B2B Sales Costs Later

One of the top reasons decision makers in B2B businesses put off social media marketing and spending on activity which can help create a web presence is “no instant ROI”. The logic: why pay someone to blog, publish content, share content, comment on others websites and spend time on social networks all day when it doesn’t instantly result in sales? It’s just an ongoing cost which can run for months without a directly proportional result in terms of sales that can be tied directly to this activity.

Most traditional business development decision makers would rather spend on advertising campaigns, email marketing campaigns, telemarketing or buying peoples attention rather than earning trust by building a relationship through social media which can be a much longer process. You wouldn’t be wrong to think social media and the content marketing approach is a slower path to converting attention to sales so it can be put off. However, it would be short-sighted.

You see, developing a content ecosystem and a social media presence is a long term investment much like brand building and not a short term marketing campaign spend like a telemarketing campaign.

So when you look at the term ROI on activities like blogging, sharing, content development and others related to developing an online presence, you need to look at it standing far back thinking what it can do for you several years down the line rather than looking at it up close like a 2 month advertising campaign where you count spend and conversions over this short period. Social media is a long term investment in creating brand pull around your business and that’s the perspective it needs to be seen in.

Real life case illustration

A couple of years ago  I was involved with the demand generation team for a B2B service. When it was launched, there were two major components to the customer acquisition process. An inbound marketing lead (just myself) and an outbound pre-sales team of 4 that would run email campaigns combined with outbound telemarketing campaigns to identify potential customers that supported a 5th sales manager that would actually close sales resulting in conversion when a hot lead has been identified by the pre-sales team.

Working of the Outbound Marketing Team

Outbound Marketing

4 resources costing the company $3000 (made up figure) a month each at a total cost of $12,000 a month.

Together they generate approximately 120 phone calls each day reaching about 50  a day of which 2 warm leads would emerge. That’s about 10 warm leads a week of which about 1 would convert into a customer. This team of 4 would consistently deliver about 4 customers a month which was not bad considering this was a service where a single customer would be high value and contribute significant revenues.

The process was linear and the cost of sales constant. The only way to increase sales would be to increase costs.

Working of the Inbound Marketing Effort

inbound marketing

1 resource costing the company $3000 (made up figure) a month total cost of $3,000 a month.

As a 1 person inbound marketing resource for a small business, I would spend my hours each day creating a compelling blog post, developing engaging content around the service like slideshare presentations, ebooks, PDFs etc. Promoting and sharing this content across social bookmarking sites, interacting with others on relevant communities across Linkedin groups, doing guest blog posts with industry thought leaders, building a following on Twitter, link building and developing awareness for the service and company.

The first two or three months there was very little traffic, a hand full of inbound leads mainly from decision makers stumbling across conversations and learning about the company. In the next three months we were reaching about 150 inbound visitors a day resulting in about just 10 form fills a month but converting into about 4-5 sales a month since the inbound leads were more qualified and came looking for what we offer. This was at par with the 4 person outbound team.

As the activity continued at the same pace, towards the end of the first year traffic grew steadily towards the website, form fills started to increase and inbound leads were continuing to show steady progress. Conversions were much better on these inbound leads since they came from visitors that had come across us online through our content or conversations, heard about us, reviewed and done most of their evaluation on the website with content provided there and then asked us to get in touch with them since they were interested.

By the end of the second year, the number of inbound leads from the website as a result of the social media and content marketing activity had far exceeded anything the 4 person sales team could come up with who were still at 4 sales a month.

The process took time and effort to yield anything. Once it did, however, it scaled and beyond a point, the returns far outweighed the costs.

 

Developing an online presence is not going to yield instant results but great brands were not built overnight. They were investments made with the vision that people will connect with them and when they finally did they paid off. Social media and online outreach is an investment. Invest early, reap the benefits long term!

 

Takeaways From Social Media Club Pune Panel Discussion On Social Influencers

This weekend got off to a great start on Saturday the 24th of March when the Pune chapter of Social Media Club held their first panel discussion on:

Using Social Influencers To Get The Customers Attention

The morning started off at the Zomato.com office in Koregaon Park, Pune where the panelists converged and the got some time to connect with each other. Including some of Pune’s most active social media folks, the panelists were a great mix of individuals ensuring this was going to be a great session.

Introducing the panelists:

 Top row from left to right:

Sonali Brahma : Independent Strategist and Creative Consultant

Saurabh Sengupta : Business Head, Zomato

Radha Giri : CEO of Midas Touch Consultants

Dr. Parag Dixit : Co-Founder of Sheepstop.com

Neil Sequeira : Founder of BuzzFactory.net (that would be me)

Swati Maheshwari : Co-founder of Rustic Art (Moderator for the discussion)

Bottom row from left to right:

Shikha Pakhide: Co-founder of Social Media Club Pune Chapter (Organizer for this event)

Yash Sharma : Founder of Change Republic

Sandeep Saxena : Founder and CEO, Acton Biotech

Prasant Naidu : Co-Founder of Lighthouse Insights

Arun Prabhudesai : Founder of Trak.in

 

Social influencer’s are to the social media realm what celebrities and brand ambassadors or brand influencers are to the offline marketing world. They hold the attention and have the trust of their audiences whether through their blog, Twitter accounts or social networks and a single mention by them could help or ruin the reputation of a product, business or brand. As the panel discussion got underway, there were some terrific examples, experiences shared, points made, opinions brought to light and tonnes of great insights around the subject of using social media influencers and the use of social media for marketing in general. The overall learnings from  this fruitful discussion may just be to vast to review or list out in a single post but here are just some of the points the panel generally agreed on and made during the discussion which would be good takeaways to remember and chew on:

Takeaways

1) Using social influencers can be effective in promoting a business or brand however, social influencers have built their audience and reputations the hard way and won’t necessarily use their power/influence to promote or mention something pushed to them.

2) If you ask a social influencer to promote or review something, expect they won’t necessarily say only good things about you. Many won’t like being pushed to review or promote your product or brand especially if they don’t really know you. Others may agree to have a look at it but they won’t compromise their honest criticism or feedback .

3) There are indirect ways to catch the attention of a social influencer, get to know them or get on their radar. They’re more likely to mention you or your brand once they’ve gotten to know you and genuinely like the product or the brand on their own without being pushed into promoting it.

4) Brand evangelism and influencers can really impact your sales but you can gather brand evangelists only if your product/service is great or worth talking about. There are lot of little creative things you can do to make your product or service better and give people something worth talking about. If you do, they will do your promotion for you. A crappy product or service can not be pushed through social media channels even if you pay people to talk about it.

5) If you’re using social media and want others to talk about your brand in a positive light, be ready for negative feedback and reactions too. Don’t block people from being able to express negative sentiments instead, address every unhappy customer or user and try and turn that negative into a positive. A single negative that is turned to a positive on social media channels is worth more than a hundred positive comments because it shows people that you care!

6) You can’t just leave anyone in charge of your social media especially if they don’t have a clue about what they’re doing or they are not empowered to respond and act. For example, a company CEO doesn’t let some random employee reply using his email id, so why should he do that with his social media accounts. Cases when a CEO, business owner or an empowered representative of the company immediately responds to a comment, tweet, update or conversation and takes swift action showing the company is listening creates immense respect for that brand or company.

7)You have the technology, the audience and tools to take a conscious decision to become a social influencer within your field. It’s a process which needs constant interaction, activity, passion and dedication along with a systematic effort but any one of us can gradually become an influencer today if you invest the time and effort to doing so and you earn the respect of online users.

8)One needs to bring in personality into their social media presence since no one wants to interact with robots or even worse, humans posting like robots!

9)You need to identify how your social media interactions are working for you. In some cases, it may not be about bringing in more traffic or new customers, it could be to retain existing traffic and keep people coming back.

10)Identifying who the best social influencers are for your business is important and can vary a lot depending on what kind of business you are. For a small services business for example, it’s all about word of mouth and your existing customers can be your most powerful influencers if they talk about you to their peers. For some companies, their employees can be their best evangelists while others a highly passionate and influential customer can become your best evangelist.

11)Money is rarely an effective compensation for most social influencers and directly telling them to promote your product or write a good review will probably backfire. If you wish to leverage social influencers, the approach has to be much more inviting, creative, giving them an opportunity to voice their own opinion on something whether good or bad. It’s about creating an experience for them to talk about and giving them the freedom to do it their way on their terms.

Those are just some of the takeaways from this session which could prove invaluable to anyone planning on identifying and engaging social media influencers to evangelize their brands or businesses. All in all, a Saturday morning well spent with some interesting discussions, valuable takeaways and … scrumptious pizzas to top it off!

 

 

If Social Media Is Free What Are Social Media Marketing Agencies Selling?

social-media-agencies-sell-time

Social media is a powerful medium for brands and marketing. No doubt about it. Businesses spend a significant portion of their budgets marketing and it’s not uncommon to have budgets of millions of dollars kept aside for advertising, buying media space, filming commercials, putting up events and other channels. When it comes to budgeting or investing in online marketing (online advertising not withstanding) or social media media marketing a common response is :

But isn’t that free?

Or at least, social media marketing is associated with low cost options for marketing….which it is. The truth is, you can market a brand or business online for virtually nothing. All you need is a laptop, internet and understanding of social media and how they can be leveraged to drive traffic and awareness for you. Most sites that are commonly used will give you free sign ups. You can setup a blog on Blogger or WordPress.com for nothing. Create a Facebook page, a Twitter account, submit pages to directories, work on your search marketing all without having to pull out a credit card or spend money. Social media is free. So what are we social media marketing agencies really charging for?

Time!

Let’s rewind a bit and look at how you would go about starting to create some online presence assuming we just launched a new website. Creating a blog can be done for free if you choose to. Writing a first post will cost you about 2 hours assuming you need to do some research, editing, include some of your keywords and really put together something people would share. That post is not going to get noticed without promoting it so that will cost a couple of hours too. Submitting it to several top bookmarking sites, communities, social networks, groups and so on so that it may get at least a few clicks from there. Doing this once will achieve nothing! It needs to be done daily or consistently. How many hours is that?

Every one of those accounts whether on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, StumbleUpon, Digg, Tumblr etc are edge-less swords until you’ve built a social influence on each one of these networks. Creating a social influence on a single social site takes hours a week and even years of activity and working at it. If you have a new Twitter account and spend a few weeks having built a following of 30 people and share your website, chances are 0-1 person may just click on it. Being in a position where you build a larger following, know people within your network build an influence on Twitter which guarantees a few hundred or thousand people will hear what you say can take take hundreds of hours of dedicated activity on Twitter. Likewise, developing a following and influence on other accounts and communities cost hundreds of hours in time. This doesn’t include the time invested in conversations, networking, replying, commenting and several other activities which are an integral part of creating an online engagement.

Social media as a channel is low cost. It may not need a lot of investment in terms of money but it needs more investment in time than perhaps any (or most) other marketing activity and time is a valuable commodity.  

It could be your time, your employees time, the time put in a by an online marketing manager, a dedicated social media team or that of a social media agency. One way or another, to build a really great online presence and social media engagement you need to invest a lot of time and effort no matter who is putting it in. So is it really low cost or free?

Some say social media and online marketing agencies like us sell expertise but I believe there is little barrier to learning what we know and a wealth of information shared on the subject if you have the time to learn it all. I like to think what we’re really charging for is our time because we spend a lot of it doing what we do. The value proposition to those that engage the support of a social media agency? :- Save your time, buy ours instead because you’ll need all the time you can get to make social media marketing really work for you and when it does, you’ll know it was worth every minute.

 

Seasonal Social Media Marketing – There Is No Such Thing

A financial company had this big event planned which would bring down some heavy weight global investors as well as some key government leaders two months away. They planned to market this event in a big way to attract more attendees from the private sector and decided to use an integrated multi-pronged plan with email campaigns, a single newspaper advertisement, call in known press contacts for some offline PR and wait for it….social media marketing!

Now this could have been a great strategy to reach out and spread the word about the event inviting people to come attend but the catch was they didn’t have a social media presence or online engagement they could tap into so they decided to engage a social media and online marketing company that could help them create a web presence for them since they would be busy with preparations for the event. Now deciding to create a social media and web presence for your company IS a great idea. What was wrong with this particular case is the plan was to spend exactly 2 months engaging on social media, setting up a blog, a Facebook account, connecting with groups on Linkedin, Twitter…..and then STOP until much later in the year when another similar event was planned.

Social media can not be compared directly to television advertising or other offline media. It doesn’t work on the principle of flash a message to a known sized audience and pay accordingly (Online advertising does that but not social media engagement). It’s about constant interaction, communication and building that community / audience and that’s not a quick ‘put together’ and sell ….it’s build and nurture over a long time. Blog audiences are not built in a month or two, neither are Facebook groups or social influence on other sites. Not to say they can’t be done with a large budget and paid online advertising but you get what you pay for and to grow a social presence online organically and build lasting relationships with people online, that’s not a viable strategy.

Think of it as a conversation (which is exactly what it is). When you stop activity, stop publishing, stop updating, stop answering, replying or communicating online…..that is the end of the conversation. The other’s in the room with you have little option but to leave the room or move on. You can’t build a relationship based on a single conversation in any social situation online or not. Stronger relationships are built when you keep in touch, keep communicating and stay in contact. Social media and online presence is great for marketing – but it can’t be a seasonal strategy which can be turned on an off.

This company is not alone in their resolve to use social media and invest in online activity for a few days of the year only when it’s strategically needed for their marketing. There are sporting clubs and franchises that engage a million strong fan base for a few months of the year when the season is on and then cut off all activity when its done. Sure season is when the interest peaks and the sponsorship revenues come pouring in for the teams and clubs but what about the fans? Do they stop being fans once the season is over? Do they stop reading about their favorite players or not want to hear what is happening off the field through the year till the next season? There are businesses from every field occasionally dabbling in social media and then letting the activity slide like it’s a seasonal campaign but there’s no such thing when it comes to social media.

There’s always advertising to turn to for instant demand generation but inbound marketing and social media marketing is not about that and doesn’t fit there as a solution to short term demand increases. It’s about relationships and like any dating guru (or social media influencer) will tell you…you need to invest time and effort in any relationship and work at it constantly to strengthen it.