In 2007, when I first started using social media as a marketing tool, it was just called “new media.” In the years since, digital marketers have made large strides, like dropping the vague term “new” and replacing it with phrases like “social network marketing” and, most significantly, adjusting the way that brands and businesses interact with their customers. We have learned a lot from our early experiences with social media. Here are some of the lessons social media taught us that are being applied across all forms of media, new and old.
Targeting the individual. One-to-one marketing is not just for social media anymore. With the recognition of the long tail has come permission to “waste” impressions. I am seeing more instances of marketers using traditionally mass media vehicles to microtarget niche audience.
Previously, to hit a highly specific audience like “Investment Bankers for Web-based IPOs” meant taking out a full page in a highly specific targeted medium like The Kiplinger Letter. This is changing.
Recently, Tim Ferriss wrote about an unusual billboard purchased by Zynga in Silicon Valley. He says, “There was no tagline, and I joked to my passenger, who was in the financing and IPO business, ‘I’m not sure who that’s intended to sell.’
[His passenger] laughed and responded with ‘Dude, that’s not for end users. That’s to get the attention of the bankers driving from SFO to downtown.’
Leveraging Pass-Along and Word-of-Mouth. In that same article, Ferriss cites an example of not targeting your audience at all, but targeting the people whoinfluence that audience. “At American Apparel, many of its best-known ads ran in obscure publications or in short bursts on niche websites. Millions of people know about them, however, because blogs thought they were so interesting that they wrote articles about them.”
The brilliance there is that the brand actually got moremileage out of their ad purchases by getting the pass-along value of what is essentially “free” advertising by highly influential bloggers. However, this type of editorial coverage and the buzz it creates is the type of advertising that big businesses have learned they cannot buy through a media broker.
Everything is Clickable. If someone is on a company’s Facebook page, the marketer knows that posting a clickable link will send many customers to get more information. With the increase of tablet PCs and mobile devices, marketers can now make this assumption with every medium. The QR code is an early integration of print with web. At the Smithsonian museums, visitors will see codes on the displays that are scannable with their web-enabled devices that will bring up apps, information and interactive learning.
Visual recognition programs for mobile devices, like Google Goggles, are being used by companies to deliver more information to their potential customers who take a picture of their products or even their logos.
As brands continue to understand the value of engaging with fans and seek metrics beyond impressions, we will see more integration of social, interactive, and location-based media with traditional media. Already, we see more restaurants posting the “Check In to Foursquare” window clings and counter cards to remind visitors to pair their physical visit with an internet visit.
A few years from now, when social media is no longer a “hot trend” but an additional, accepted marketing tool, I would like us to all look back and see that 2011 was the year that all media became “social.”