• Provide exclusive social media incentives
• Promote your social media presence everywhere
• Stay vigilant for "the next hot social media trend"
Time magazine was not far off when they recently named Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg their Person Of The Year. Although Mr. Z himself may not have the aura of your typical celebrity, his creation has definitely marked a paradigm shift in the way over half a billion people interact online.
Email marketers cannot afford to consider social media a temporary fad or flash in the pan, as the social media revolution has shaken the very foundations of email marketing. These five email marketing and social media musts should be seriously considered for incorporation in your 2011 campaigns, unless you risk being left behind by the bandwagon… or should I term it a juggernaut?
Promote Endorsements From Social Media Participants
In the social media age, brand endorsements aren't everything, they're the only thing. In a sharp reversal to earlier eras where an endorsement by a celebrity, sports hero, or animated creature would drive sales, social media participants prefer endorsements by… other social media participants! The prevailing belief that "real" people are more likely to give "real" assessments of a product's value than a paid spokesperson can be harnessed to benefit your brand.
Run through your social media presences with a magnet, grab every comment that praises your brand to the high heavens, and stuff them in your next email: either as a section or as the focus of an entire newsletter. Ensure that you have a variety of sources and that they're not all from your Facebook page. If you're able to glean comments from a variety of social networks as well as your website and blog, incorporating them into an endorsement anthology will speak volumes.
Not all comments need to be glowing endorsements as a barrage of too many plaudits will start to sound faked. Keep it real and generally positive for maximum impact.
Push For Social Media Signups Even If They're Signing Out
Next time you're spending an evening in front of the TV set pay particular attention to the tail end of many major brand commercials. While it became de rigeur a few years ago to include a website address, now they primarily push their Facebook or Twitter participation! Wired magazine may not have been too far off the mark a few months ago when its cover trumpeted that "The Web Is Dead".
Shrewd promoters have realized that encouraging social media participation has to be a primary goal of their overall marketing scheme, even if multi-million dollar televised ad campaigns have to feature the Facebook invites. This level of social media saturation should also extend to your unsubscription options. If a customer is leaving your list, offering them opportunities (along with properly generous incentivization) to join your Facebook or Twitter presence may help retain the individual's involvement in your brand.
Create & Nourish A Social Media Sub-Universe
It is no longer verboten to promote your social media presence through your emails, instead it has now become obligatory. Your email marketing campaigns will gain effectiveness if they encourage your customers to engage with your brand through your social presences. Concentrate only on the established and up-and-coming major players as there are thousands of minor league ankle biter social media sites out there that don't draw flies.
Facebook is currently the global social leviathan, but by next year at this time they might have been supplanted by a competitor that no one has heard of today. Pay close attention to the grapevine and be ready to engage your customers on whatever platform or site they are flocking to in droves. Providing exclusive products, discounts, or accesses to specific social media sites is a great way to drive traffic to your Web 2.0 presences.
Provide & Encourage Video Content
The provision of high quality marketing videos is now as universal a promotional strategy as any other form of more conventional advertising, but your video engagement should not stop at the production of YouTube stuffers. Soliciting and showcasing videos in your email campaigns which have been produced and submitted by your customers can act as a gateway to your social network pages.
Running a contest for videos is a superlative way to show your customer base that you are interested in engaging them in a bilateral participation. Ensure that the videos are carefully moderated and reviewed before posting so you won't run into the uncomfortable problem faced by a major automotive manufacturer that solicited videos for their SUV line only to find many were produced that were significantly derogatory to the hulking, gas-guzzling stereotype of the vehicle.
Make Full Use Of Social Signup Links & Forms
Most social network pages offer you the options to include links to your signup forms. If you are not making comprehensive use of these opportunities drop everything right now and go set them up. Social media can be a powerful driver of customer subscriptions and failing to take full advantage of these is like paying for an expensive buffet and just eating a radish. Apply your social media strategy with intelligence and wile, and you'll find that 2011 will be a very good year for you indeed!
Curt Keller is CEO and founder of Benchmark Email, a leading, global email marketing service.