by Ronald Ladouceur
Special to the eTail Blog
Many retailers think successful social marketing is a function of reaction time. Armed with social media monitoring tools and Twitter consoles, they hover over their keyboards, ready to pounce on negative mentions and swing sentiment a degree or two toward the positive.
This reactive social marketing, which is really constant, low-level crisis management, is a necessary evil for fast food chains, beverage companies and other businesses susceptible to fast breeding urban myths. But for the 99 percent of businesses that don’t get mentioned every few minutes on Twitter or elsewhere, reactive social marketing puts the emphasis – and the investment of time and money — in the wrong place.
Though everyone must keep an eye on social platforms, most retailers should prioritize proactive social media marketing efforts.
How can you spot an accomplished proactive marketer?
1. They define their brands (they don’t let their brand be defined)
Brand positioning is full-contact sport! It merges customer experience with content creation, content curation and quality promotions. Reactive social media marketing can uncover product problems and demonstrate a retailer’s level of concern, but only proactive marketing can create true brand value.
2. They become the source
All companies create intellectual property as part of the normal course of business. This includes research findings, product descriptions, instructions, tutorials, case studies, FAQ and simple industry observations. Proactive social media marketers know how to trade portions of this property in exchange for space in shared media.
3. They know how to leverage the investments of others
The Super Bowl. The Oscars. The Grammies. How many millions of dollars are spent promoting these shows? Proactive retailers know how to leverage high-value events related to their markets. They develop editorial calendars and plan content and promotions in advance. They queue up posts, and they have time left over to act in the moment and engage with their customers. Riding Royal Wedding fever recently were JCPenney and Target, and capitalizing on Mother’s Day were Macy’s, Kohl’s and Michael’s.
4. They create a buzz
Proactive marketers put content out there worth talking about. Sure, it takes an investment, a fair amount of trial and error and a bit of old-fashioned PR, but even the most conservative retailer can create viral hits as long as it keys into customers interests – and keeps at it. Although Red Wing Shoes’ Facebook and Twitter followings are modest, its YouTube channel boasts over 100K views. Its videos contain original content that tells a brand story that makes customers proud of their relationship with the company.
5. They get full credit
Proactive retailers use social media to launch new products, build store traffic and drive conversions and sales. They also use social media to connect their communities and promote their favored social causes. They get credit for the good deeds they do, and their work reflects well on their brands. Walmart floods its Twitter stream with messages about sustainability and fuel conservation and uses Facebook to showcase how it works with fans to fight hunger in America.
6. They help customers become content creators
Proactive social media marketers know their customers can be their most valuable content creators. From retweets to wall posts to comments to videos and beyond, customer-created content conveys excitement about and loyalty toward the brand that no advertisement can match. Two brands that encourage customer creativity on Twitter are Dr. Pepper and Kraft (which aggregates the tweets on a Facebook tab). Home Depot, Jansport and Dos Equis are among the brands that reliably call for customer content on Facebook.
7. They know how to multiply their investment
Proactive marketers make it easy – frictionless – and fun for customers and fans to engage and share. One fan shares with 150 friends. The 150 friends each share with 150 more friends…and it goes on. Both Coca-Cola (send a friend a pick-me-up) and Timberland (grow real and virtual forests) are currently running very clever share-based promotions.
Seems like a challenging set of imperatives, right? We prefer to think of it as exhilarating!
Ronald Ladouceur is Executive Vice President and Executive Creative Director for Media Logic. He oversees the agency’s interactive, creative and design departments and is the driving force behind Zeitgeist & Coffeesm, Media Logic’s social marketing platform.