Marketing to the Social Web | Larry Weber

Summary of: Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business
By: Larry Weber

Introduction

In today’s digital era, traditional marketing strategies are losing their effectiveness as customers become more engaged with the online world and expect interactivity. The book ‘Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business’ by Larry Weber, provides ways to navigate the challenges of the evolving social Web. It focuses on understanding how to build a strong online presence, create dialogues with customers, and leverage the social Web to target diverse customer communities. This guide helps you develop new marketing strategies, provides insights on community building, stealth marketing techniques, and how to embrace a two-way conversation with customers.

Marketing on the Social Web

The social Web, including social networking sites, blogs, company-sponsored websites, and e-commerce sites, is a new environment for marketing. To succeed, marketers must shift from broadcasting messages to becoming aggregators of customer communities. This involves gathering and organizing messages from customers to make them active community members. Several social and technological trends are driving the need for new rules of engagement, such as technologies that allow customers to skip ads, the democratization of the online world, and the expectation of interactivity. Marketing goals of attracting and retaining customers remain the same, but online activities can tap customer creativity, build company reputation, and generate leads. To be successful, marketers must engage in dialogue with customers on their website and use oblique, even sneaky, approaches to get their message across.

The New Marketing Mindset

In the past, marketing was a one-way communication process from marketers to consumers. Companies controlled their brand’s meaning and the information they disseminated. However, the rise of the social web has changed the game. Marketing is now a two-way conversation between companies and consumers, where neither controls the brand’s meaning. Customers can find information about products in many places, and their product ratings are highly influential. Marketing messages can be professional or amateurish, and communication happens electronically, allowing businesses to constantly update their products. Marketing is no longer top-down but instead from the bottom up. The social web opens up new customer outlets, but it also has its risks. To channel discussion of their products, companies need to create their own forums and establish rules that govern posts, permit criticism but not abuse or obscenities. The seriousness with which companies respond to complaints demonstrates that they are listening and taking action.

Mastering Social Media Advertising

In the age of social media, advertising can be more complex than traditional media. This summary presents seven steps to help you design a personalized approach appropriate for the social Web.

Social media advertising is more complex than traditional advertising avenues because you do not have complete control over the content. To design a personalized approach appropriate for the social Web, take seven crucial steps.

First, observe. Get online and browse the important sites in your industry, influential figures’ blogs, and watch videos. Pay attention to the emergence of communities from interpersonal online communication. As you explore, determine what your target audience expects and where they go for it. Develop a list of best practices, key words, and customer maps.

Second, enlist community members. Building a community that facilitates meeting people, having fun, learning, and influencing others, requires more than creating a website. Find out what your community members want and offer it to them.

Third, evaluate online conduit strategies. Which strategies do you use to reach your target audience and guide people to your community? Reputation aggregators, partnering with organizations that share your target audience, cross-promoting your products and services, and developing a presence on Web sites such as MySpace and Facebook are some conduit strategies you can use.

Fourth, start conversations within your community. Encourage members to chat among themselves and engage them as advisers for the company. Give them reasons to spend time on your website.

Fifth, measure activity and productivity. Set goals and collect data about the results. Lead generation, requests for information, and web-based purchases are easy to measure. While “share of voice” and “thought leadership” may not be measurable, you can track the number of links to your site, the level of activity and how often other individuals or publications cite your work.

Sixth, promote your community. Include URLs in all television or print ads and links in all online ads or e-mails. Go to where your target audience congregates, track blogs discussing your products or products similar to yours and contact bloggers directly with special offers or information useful to the bloggers. Send tailored messages while the news is still fresh and use services that specialize in directing traffic to your website.

Finally, improve community benefits. Regularly update content, post tips, share testimonials, make policies, and archives readily accessible. Find out who is missing and develop programs to attract them. Try Web innovations and ask community members how you can improve their online experiences.

In conclusion, while social media advertising may be more complex than traditional advertising avenues, using the seven steps above can help design an excellent personalized approach suitable for social Web advertising.

Mastering Search Engine Rankings

Learn about the various search engines and how they rank websites, and take steps to ensure that your site gets a high ranking. Rather than engaging in a bidding war to pay for a high rank, focus on improving your product and marketing campaigns to earn a natural high ranking. By understanding how potential customers look for your company and products, you can design campaigns that use specific phrases and images to optimize your search rankings. Remember that marketing on the social web is an ongoing process and requires consistent effort towards improvement.

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