Gemma Houghton

Social Media Marketing Is Not Black Magic

Everyone is talking about social media, and many companies are actively participating in it. But with so many channels, tools and techniques available are global brands making the most of it and is it an effective marketing tool. We’ve asked Massimo Burgio, a global search and social expert where companies are going wrong with social – and what they should be doing to engage users and build their brand using social media.

What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in global social media at the moment?

Not much, really… maybe the NewTwitter as a better tool, or platforms like SocialCast or Jive for managing social media marketing project on a team scale. Social media is growing fast on the consumer side, while the brands look like they spent all their creative efforts in offline media, as I don’t see big commitment on the social media side. The most exciting news this year is probably the decision of Pepsi not to invest $20M on a Superbowl ad, and to invest it in social media instead– but not on Facebook and the likes. They threw a contest for social business ideas, and gave the money to support sustainable businesses. However, there is nothing new even here, Google does it all the time…

What are the biggest mistakes being made by organisations in their international social media strategies?

Waiting for social media success to happen because of the users’ activity, rather than stimulating conversation and proposing new ways of engagement. This is a global mistake but not necessarily a mistake in global strategies. It just happens over and over all around the world, and marketers keep doing the same mistakes in every country.

How important is it for organisations to plan their social media activity? Should social media activity be planned – or is it more spontaneous, and reactive?

Social media marketing is not black magic, it’s just another channel for marketing fellas to engage in. And like any other marketing channel, it needs serious planning of content, resources, commitment. The reactive part (replying to a comment or a thread) is nothing more than any other community management process – always on. But companies cannot allow their presence on social networks to be determined by users in terms of content – they need to focus on how, what and when to communicate, with some decent planning.

There are so many social media tools, platforms and channels – how can marketers determine which tools will be most effective in their chosen target markets?

It’s all about strategic and competitive analysis. Marketers should market where their target audience is, and not just jump on the first option only because it is fancy. Sometimes social media means also being active on “boring” networks such as LinkedIn or Yahoo! Answers, but those can sometimes be more effective than “shining happy networks” such as Facebook, twitter or (remember that?) Second Life. I suggest looking at the Conversation Prism designed by Brian Solis, I will talk about it at the International Search Summit London.

What role do you think SEO plays in achieving success in social media campaigns?

SEO plays a pivotal role in everything internet. Even if it’s not possible to implement SEO coding on many social networks profiles, knowledge from SEO should always drive in the choice of vanity URLs, profile names, tags and categories when allowed, and so on. On the digital media side, meaning the optimisation of all media we distribute on social networks (text, links, images, videos, maps), SEO is definitely the main reference for all social media optimisation techniques.

If you could give just one tip to marketers running global search/social campaigns, what would it be?

One tip? Only one? It won’t be enough… So I’ll go with: “You’re putting your brand in the front line. Be prepared and know what you are doing.”

And one final one, why attend the International Search Summit?

Because it has a very particular take on search, from the global perspective. And because it’s fun, of course! :-)

The International Search Summit London will take place on 28th October at The British Library. Visit www.internationalsearchsummit.com/london for the full agenda and to register!

Gemma Houghton

Gemma Houghton

Marketing Manager at Webcertain
Gemma has been working in international search for 6 years and leads Webcertain's marketing team. As well as managing Webcertain’s global online and offline marketing activities, she also organises and programs WebCertain's International Search Summit, a search marketing conference focusing on international and multilingual online marketing and contributes regularly to the Webcertain blog. She has also spoken at conferences such as SES and SasCon and writes regularly for State of Digital. Gemma holds a Professional Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a BA Joint Honors Degree in French and German.

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