Social Media: Socialized Learning
One of the elements that makes direct marketing through traditional channels so effective is the ability to test for all sorts of things: copy, offer, packaging, time, etc. Over the years, direct marketers have developed rigorous methodologies for testing that are now very mature. It's a science.
Testing in social media is still more of an art than a science, but an art that offers remarkable promise for testing prospecting, retention and even larger segments due to its immediate stimulus/response character.
Unlike traditional direct marketing, which delivers a finite number of specific communications over a finite time, social media is a continuous, live, real-time conversation. The social media channel is yet nascent—still rapidly changing and evolving—but in those networks are real organizations, fans, prospects, clients, people listening and responding to the stimuli placed before them. Social media, in effect, can be seen as on-going focus groups.
1. Message Testing
Testing to optimize communications for ideal response is fundamental to the practice of both direct and social media marketing, but it takes place in quite different ways.
Social media is all about conversation—stimulating ongoing discussions. The fundamental differences between it and traditional direct marketing are clear enough. Traditional direct marketing is certainly about stimulus, but not delivered in real-time nor continuously. Traditional direct marketing does not talk directly with recipients or respondents, and they cannot talk back in real-time.
During the strategy phase of social media program development, create a messaging map that outlines the conversations to do three things: directly address key marketing objectives, be on-brand, and get the audience emotionally connected with the brand. When engaging on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, continuously test your audience to determine what messaging works to create the outcomes in your objective.
For example, we helped the women's online community Wine Sisterhood discover that its audience had a positive response to pictures of wine paraphernalia such as wine glasses and wine bottle toppers. The pinker the better!