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What kind of social media strategies do you use?

We only use social media as a component of larger campaigns

With all the hype surrounding social media, it's easy to forget that the big money has been made selling social media sites, not selling things through social media. For example, over a year and a half period, Dell got 0.0011% of its sales ($1 million divided by about $90 billion) through Twitter — and all they had to do was offer extra discounts! (During that time, Twitter raised $20 million from investors — and they weren't exactly offering discounts on their stock).

So how do we help clients use Twitter without being used by discount-hungry fans and attention-craving social media mavens?

Our social media marketing strategies focus on three areas where social media has an edge:

  1. Real-time research. If we want to know what people will search for after they watch the news tonight, or read the paper tomorrow, there's no better tool than social media.
  2. Instant feedback. It can take months of on-site testing to see if a product is better positioned than, say, a quick low-cost solution or a high-value, long-term decision. But social media can get the answer faster.
  3. Deeper analytics. We use software tools to algorithmically guess what people are searching for. By participating in the same communities as our target audience, we find out what they're really saying — and what we can say to appeal to them.

For now, social media marketing strategies don't create much value working alone. However, as part of an integrated strategy like Blue Fountain Media's proprietary i-SEO, social media can raise the ROI of other kinds of marketing.

Peter Shankman suggests avoiding social media "experts" who are pushing fairly conventional social strategies. We'd like to suggest that you also avoid social media "experts" pushing new, creative ways to get the same lackluster results. Social media marketing has potential as a source of research, even inspiration — but as a direct sales tool, it has a long way to go.

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