You've established a Facebook page for your brand. Your company is actively tweeting. You're posting your TV spots on YouTube and photos of your PR events on Flickr.
If only your customers knew about it.
In most cases, marketers using social media are aware of how to promote each individual effort. To drive traffic to your Twitter page and increase your list of followers, for example, you can follow those with like-minded updates in the hopes that they'll reciprocate, or add your listing to Twitter directory sites like Twellow and Just Tweet It. But few businesses operate in a channel silo, and while such tactics might generate results that immediately affect your Twitter marketing strategy, they won't reach the consumers in your additional media streams. For that, you'll need to craft some form of advertising for your social media practices and incorporate it into the other aspects of your cross-media campaign.
Set your sites on social media
The place to start promoting your social media presence is on your brand, product and corporate sites, and your blogs. Most social media services make this easy by offering branded badges that can be customized and applied to these platforms; they are also available through third-party programmers and designers.
While some badges are simply static buttons, others can be quite elaborate. Say Tweet allows users to tag people in photographs and add a "tweet bubble" to their image, which it populates with their most current tweet. In addition to informing site visitors of your company's Twitter presence, this is a playful way to add personality to the headshots on your company information or your corporate profile pages.
To promote your business' Facebook page, grab an official badge from Facebook to incorporate into your site. Alternatively, you can integrate a link to Facebook that remains more consistent with your current site design. Canadian apparel retailer Roots Canada took the latter approach by adding a link below its home page Flash theater. The resulting call-to-action is subtle, but also appears more polished.
Delivering the social message
Email newsletters sent directly to your current and prospective customers deliver a captive audience, and thus afford an opportunity to highlight your social media efforts and augment interaction with your brand. Take a look at some popular B2C digital correspondences and you'll notice this trend.
American Eagle Outfitters previously ended its newsletter with a call-to-action to register for its mobile alerts. Now, it also entices subscribers to "Become a fan on Facebook" and "Follow us on Twitter." Threadless clothing does the same but features the Facebook and Twitter logos for added awareness, while Chicago's Shedd Aquarium invites e-mail subscribers to "connect" on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
The verbiage used is less important than the purpose of such social engagements, and how it relates to your email marketing efforts. For example, Shedd Aquarium uses email to promote current and upcoming exhibits, classes and programs. Their emails now link to a Flickr gallery featuring enticing imagery and a YouTube page that offers exhibit tours and trainer diaries in video form, which enhances the overall value of the emails.
Each social service represents an additional channel through which Shedd marketers can expose consumers to the Shedd Aquarium experience. These channels converge in its emails, which already attract a large opt-in audience eager for new and exclusive information.
Shedd gets extra points for promoting its social media presence at the top of its message, just below the menu bar, as opposed to burying it below the HTML content. On its site, links to the social services Shedd is actively using appear below the fold, but mirror the links in its emails.
Twitter on display
With so many brands now on Twitter, competition for attention is heating up. One way to generate awareness and interest is by promoting your Twitter stream in your banner ads.
There are several advantages to this approach. Up-to-the-minute tweets keep banner content dynamic and current -- far better in the minds of consumers than running banners that are static and stale. Additionally, when tweets are formatted as replies to followers and their questions (for example, "@customerX We're glad you like our products, thanks for your repeat purchases!" and "@customerY You're in luck, we are opening a store in your neighborhood next month"), the dissemination of consumer-generated media can bring authenticity, reliability, and a human element to a brand. Any form of Twitter promotion also serves, of course, to drum up new followers.
Software company Intuit recently ran a Twitter banner that fulfilled all of these criteria. The ad promoted its TurboTax product during this year's tax season. As reported by NetBanker, the banner ran on VentureBeat and displayed the five most recent tweets made by the company on its TurboTax Twitter page.
Automaker Volvo took an even more unconventional approach to promote its XC60 model with a hefty 950 x 250 expandable banner ad that ran on YouTube during April's New York International Auto Show. Tweets from Volvo ad agency EuroRSCG executives as they attended the show appeared in a dialogue bubble within the banner.
There's ample opportunity for marketers to leverage their Twitter stream in their advertising creative. The exertion is already being put forth, so why not apply the work to a banner and extend your reach through advertising? Treating your tweets as RSS updates and feeding them into your ads is a way to simultaneously enhance your banners and generate industry buzz. Be particularly creative and your campaign will likely get numerous press mentions to boot.
Social media has been embraced by businesses big and small, and that's both promising and commendable. As you continue to invest in fleshing out these initiatives, though, keep the importance of promoting them in mind. Consider your cross-media marketing campaign as a whole, and look for ways each channel could potentially accommodate advertising for your social efforts. By increasing your visibility, you stand to directly increase the number of current and potential customers who choose to maintain an ongoing social dialogue with your company and brand.
Steve Glauberman is CEO and chairman of Enlighten.