eView: Social Media Rules of Engagement to Live By
In the LinkedIn group that I manage, Direct Marketing Questions & Answers, we've been discussing the zig versus zag nature of direct marketing and social media.
The theory is this: With everybody zigging toward social media, doesn’t that leave a giant hole (translation: opportunity) for traditional direct marketing to engage customers and prospects? It's been a spirited discussion so far, and I firmly believe that traditional direct marketing — integrated with the web — does present an opportunity in a zigzag market.
My personal bottom line is that social media marketing is just one of the tools in my toolkit, and should be tested and rolled out as part of a direct marketing mix. I use it all.
No discussion of social media these days should be done without a basic understanding of its strategic versus tactical use.
I see many companies using social media tactically. That is, without thinking through the strategy. The truth is, anyone can post a video, start tweeting or blogging, etc., and many companies have jumped on this bandwagon as a tactic. However, much like direct mail or any other direct marketing discipline, the tactical use of social media can have little or no results at all, thus giving the marketer the erroneous impression that social media doesn't work.
The direct mail analogy
I can't tell you how many times I’ve heard marketers say, “We tried direct mail (insert medium here) and it doesn't work.” Some of these people, when further queried, admit to not following the rules, the first of which is to define the strategy, list, offer, etc. But if these business owners learn how to do direct mail right, their next attempts will have better, if not profitable, results.
There are many places to find the rules of direct mail or traditional direct marketing. But when it comes to social media, the rules of engagement are a bit vague.
I’ve been studying social media marketing for the last year — practicing it strategically and analyzing my results. And I’ve also been looking for a quality set of best practices to live by. Today, thanks to Twitter, I found some social media rules of engagement published by Intel for its employees and contractors. This is a good place to start.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect, or read his blog at http://gilbertdirectmarketing.wordpress.com.