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The Link: Social Media & Tech Marketing

Too many marketers in the tech sector are jumping on the social media bandwagon for all the wrong reasons. A Facebook or Twitter page is created and then used to merely push out promotional content. That's a great way to alienate your community or customer prospects. They'll tune out instantly.

Yes, social media is important, and business buyers are definitely using it. In fact, recent research shows about 85 percent of decision-makers are using it mostly for business not personal reasons. Buyers want relevant information well in advance of taking any buying action. They may start using social media to get answers months or years before they buy. Typically they're commenting on discussions, perhaps reviewing related products or services or reading online forums or content. They're in a learning phase.

Often thought leadership is mistakenly only attributed to market share leaders. It's a powerful public relations strategy available to potentially any business where there is a thought leadership vacuum or where there's an opportunity to break out with fresh thinking. Your brand doesn't need to be an Intel or Cisco to seize thought leadership as an engagement strategy.

It's an opportunity to begin building brand awareness and trust. Creating perceptions of expertise is a huge marketing advantage in the tech business sector. I mean, whom do you want to buy from — a brand that shares deep knowledge of its specialty with you, or one that just pushes product announcement tweets at you?

Why engage with your market this way? Because tech buyers don't really “buy” your product or service. They want your brand for its perspective, its values, and what it can offer. Basically, people buy to avoid pain or gain pleasure, in business or not. You don't have to have piles of cash to drive thought leadership via social media. It's not free, but you can effectively compete against larger players with a much lower investment this way.

Quite often, by acting as a thought leader via your social media campaign and other channels, you're providing something competitors aren't. That difference separates your brand from others, which is the core of any successful marketing campaign.

Other benefits of employing a thought leadership campaign are that it:

  • Exposes your company's values to your prospects
  • Demonstrates expertise where expertise is valued
  • Attracts specific kinds of customers
  • Changes how people think — usually for the better
  • Preempts competitive marketing efforts — If they copy you, do something else
  • Attracts attention beyond simple product or company advertising claims.

Strategy first, then tactics. Be sure to create a strategic communications objective so there's management agreement about where you're going and what you want to be known for. Hint: A company or brand can only be effectively known for one thing. Brand extensions are wasteful marketing, but that's another topic.

If you already have a clearly-defined market position, great! What topics will help further cement that authority you've earned? If your company really hasn't established a position it's high time to figure that out and support it with communications demonstrating your difference. Social media is a communications medium you can use to start.

After a strategy is in place, further prepare by developing depth of understanding around key market problems or trends. You may have that information in the heads of people within your company. Knowing what's going on in the market is directly applicable and can help jump-start the thought leadership program. A company audit of this information can help flesh out the program with relevant ideas, preferably BIG ideas. You want ideas that provoke thought and comment and are unique, game-changing, and inspirational. What big ideas are floating around your company that the market wants to hear about?

Give away knowledge freely. Not your trade secrets, but don't be bashful about demonstrating your tech expertise. Keep your communications focused on customer relevance, not on pushing products. Remember, they're after information that prepares them for a future purchase from a trusted brand. Build trust first.

Earn that trust, stand by your principles and support your point-of-view. Also strategically important is keying on a single, high-level topic that leaves room to move. Engaging in and embracing open public discussion around your main topic is at the core of the campaign.

Connect social media to marketing with a meaningful strategy by discussing and sharing information important to those who may or will someday make a purchase. Strategically build brand awareness and trust with a thought leadership-based social media campaign.

8 comments on “The Link: Social Media & Tech Marketing

  1. jbond
    June 2, 2011

    You are absolutely correct on your assessment of companies and social media. It is very rare to find a company on any social media outlet that seems to be following proper marketing techniques to spread the word about their products or the company themselves. Social media marketing has to be done a certain way to get the attention of your audience and not just be ignored. If more companies followed a few solid guidelines, they might find more success using this platform over traditional marketing.

  2. Ariella
    June 2, 2011

    Build trust first.” That is the key thing to remember. You can 't push a hard sell through social media but use it to establish a relationship that may well lead to sales and customer loyalty down the road.

  3. baha99
    June 2, 2011

    That is true. The challange for most companies starting their social media activities is that it takes a lot of patience to to build a social media history, then utilize Sm to market your poducts. Its tempting to start blasting out your marketware over Social Media.

     

    Gary

    http://www.razient.com

     

  4. Ford Kanzler
    June 2, 2011

    To All – I'm interested in hearing from EBN readers about how they're using social media professionally and what they're geting from it. Also like knowing of companies you feel are employing social media well in varying ways.

  5. Ariella
    June 2, 2011

    Personally, I am not a Starbucks customer, though I recognize the company uses social media very well. I wrote about it at http://www.thecmosite.com/author.asp?section_id=1167&doc_id=206660

  6. alawson
    June 10, 2011

    Great post Ford.

    Glad to see so many good comments. I think that the mistake most often made by those looking to get started in social is the same as many new salespeople have; they sell too early. Just like a sales relationship, you need to convince your listeners that your commentary and content is worth their time. Let them decide they want to hear about what you do. Don't decide for them.

    Social is about choice. As business users of the medium, we can never forget that our audience is only captive when they wish to be. Its a priviliedge that we have to earn in order to speak to them over these lines. So listen to what your group is saying they want to hear and fashion your mesages accordingly. 

  7. alawson
    June 10, 2011

    Ford, if you are a LinkedIn user, join us at http://bit.ly/SMelec — its a 'Social Media in the Electronics Industry' group that is open to all who have good thoughts to share. Love to have your input.

  8. Ford Kanzler
    June 10, 2011

    Heavy-handedness has never been effective in a public relations environment. Subtlty and informationally valuable content are what holds community/audience interest. When you give value, you get attention. Simple but not always so easily accomplished. Having insight to what's of interest is primary.

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