Today I am honored to share with you a guest post by Allison Rice, Marketing Director, Amsterdam Printing. Allison writes about what is going on in the online marketing industry. This industry made its first big step into the cloud through a wealth of SaaS offerings, and is now moving on towards more integrated solutions which are very much driven by Big Data and Marketing Automation. I will follow up on these topics in separate blog posts.
In some ways, the world of social media is starting to look an awful lot like the U.S. airline industry: Air Tran is now part of Southwest, Northwest is the same as Delta, United and Continental are one and the same, and there’s no longer any difference between U.S. Air and American Airlines.
A Social Media Buying Frenzy
Meanwhile, the giants of social media have launched a buying frenzy that mirrors what’s happening with America’s air carriers. Last year, Salesforce.com purchased Buddy Media, Oracle announced that it would acquire Vitrue and Google paid a reported $250 million for Wildfire, a company that develops software which targets the personal data in social media user profiles to help companies reach the people who are most likely to buy their products.
Why would Google plunk down a quarter-of-a-billion dollars for a 4-year-old company that started out with just two employees? The obvious answer is that the purchase will give Google a stronger position against the opposition in its battle to dominate the social media universe. Since it was established in 2008, Wildfire has become a leader in producing software to facilitate contests, promotions and a wide range of marketing campaigns on social media stars such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. When Google bought the company, Wildfire’s software was the force behind social media marketing for more than 16,000 businesses, some small and some, like Amazon, Target and Electronic Arts, really large.
Wildfire’s software gives companies of all sizes the wherewithal to interact with their fans, followers, customers and potential customers by managing their apps, pages, tweets and ads all at one time. For example, you can find out what’s being said about you, your industry and your competition on thousands of websites, and you can monitor and analyze hundreds of social media conversations. In addition, you can publish text, images and videos and monitor their impact on various social media platforms.
Possibly the most important aspect of this technology aiding your business is that you will be able to respond to potential sales leads from hundreds of social networking sites, blogs and forums and take more than just an educated guess at how much return you are getting on your advertising dollar.
Not Without Competition
Google obviously hopes its new acquisition will continue to spread like Wildfire, but the new partners are not without competition. Salesforce.com bought both Buddy Media and Radian6, at a total price in the neighborhood of $1 billion, and combined the best features of both to create the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. You can use the Cloud to glean data from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs and online communities and to connect with your potential customers with videos, images and links. In addition, the Cloud allows you to launch ad campaigns on Facebook and elsewhere while you gather and respond to content posted on social media sites.
Not to be left out of the industry’s merger madness, Oracle acquired Vitrue, a platform developed to provide the tools necessary to easily manage social marketing campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google.
Regardless of whether you choose to make your marketing more efficient by using the latest social media tools, there are certain guidelines you should follow to get the best possible return:
Listen to what your potential customers are saying by finding out what they are posting online.
Focus on what you do best. Using a "rifle" approach to marketing is better than using a "shotgun."
Quality is more effective than quantity. You’ll be better off if 1,000 people read your content, share it with their friends and talk about you online than if 10,000 people connect with you once and never come back.
Patience is important. You probably won’t attain overnight success. Instead, you should be prepared for a long-term marketing campaign.
Sharing is one key to success. If you publish quality content, your followers will share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, which will also do wonders for your Google rankings. And don’t be afraid to share and talk about content published by others. After all, you expect them to do the same for you.
Connect with people who can help you succeed. Build online relationships with those who have quality audiences that might be interested in your products and services. Maybe they will share your content with their own followers.
Value is important. Don’t spend all your online time directly pushing your products and services. Focus on creating great content and nurturing relationships. If you are lucky, these relationships eventually will lead to word-of-mouth marketing for your company.
Acknowledge people who reach out to you. I think we’ve already determined that online relationships are important. Don’t ignore people who take the time to get in touch with you.
Be accessible to your audience. Publish content continuously and participate in online conversations. If you fall off the face of the earth for a few weeks, your followers will find someone else to follow.
Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of customized pens to order and other promotional products to grow your business and thank customers. Allison regularly contributes to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog, where she provides actionable business tips.