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Web 2.0 Marketing Transformation (Part 1 of 2)

By Jim Arnold
Chief Marketing Officer at MetricsBoard

Change is good, right? "There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction," the wise Winston Churchill once said. This statement is very relevant for marketing and corporate communications professionals these days, as the benefits of Web 2.0 one-to-one interactive and social media channels are starting to surpass the effectiveness of the more traditional one-to-many marketing channels.

The use of Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, and other forms of Web 2.0 communications are growing exponentially annually, which is redirecting where promotional funds are spent, altering the composition of the push/pull marketing mix, and affecting the way we go to market. However, I am alarmed by some of the lack of planning and research taking place to ensure that companies are headed in the right direction and deploying the appropriate set of Web 2.0 tactics that fit their business needs. "Change is happening quickly, and it almost feels like there is a new online channel to consider and evaluate every few months," said Peter Zafiridis, Vice President of Travelocity Business. Well said.

But change is good. Web 2.0 and social media marketing are good, too. But marketing is in the midst of transformation. The companies that succeed in this new space will be those that take the time to use good strategic planning processes, test their participation first, and use recognized best practices to take full advantage of these new, evolving channels.

Are You On Your Way to Timbuktu?

How quickly you adopt social media marketing will depend on your own specific goals, market segment, and type of business model, but there is no doubt social media will become an important channel over time for both B-to-C and B-to-B companies. In many respects, it fits under the broad category of word-of-mouth marketing, which can either be online or offline driven. Its growing popularity relies on the collective nature of social groups that have similar interests, like to share information, and want to establish relationships.

The fabled city of Timbuktu has long been used as a metaphor for exotic, distant lands: "from here to Timbuktu." While a visit to Timbuktu might have been a great destination during the 14th or 15th century, it's likely not part of your company's target audience. My point is, unless you take time to plan what your social media success looks like, define where you want to go, and know your starting point, you may end up in Timbuktu—way off course and not driving the increased business value you desired. When social media is integrated into your marketing plans correctly, it can become a powerful strategy. You should carefully define your goals first and then create a marketing roadmap to guide you on your journey.

View Social Media in the Right Context

Social media should be viewed as one element of a broad marketing mix. Determining which combination of tactics to use as part of an overall integrated campaign should be based on your objectives, strategies, and target audience. Each type of marketing activity will vary in terms of cost, the amount of effort required, and the expected ROI.

Viewing social media in the right context and understanding how it reinforces and works in conjunction with other digital programs can make your efforts more effective. Here are 11 Web 2.0 strategic groupings and best practice areas you should consider and evaluate when formulating your plans:

  • Blogosphere
  • Communities, forums, wikis, and message boards
  • Corporate communications and social relations
  • e-Marketing: search engine marketing (SEM) and customer relationship marketing (CRM)
  • Web sites: search engine optimization (SEO), Web site optimization (WSO), and conversion optimization (CO)
  • Social media: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Squidoo, and other tools
  • Multimedia sharing: Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and other tools
  • Virtual worlds: Second Life and other tools
  • Socialization, governance, and internal integration
  • Reputation management
  • Voice of the customer

(Part 2)

Jim Arnold

Jim Arnold is a marketing executive, consultant, and co-founder of MetricsBoard with more than 25 years experience in marketing, advertising, and strategic planning. He has held executive-level positions with American Airlines, Compaq, EDS, IBM, and other Fortune 500 companies. Jim has also held leadership positions with Y&R and McCann-Erickson, where he led the development of several award-winning brand campaigns. He has been a speaker for CMO Executive Summit Conferences, Forbes magazine, AMA, and other organizations. Jim is a winner of the ITSMA Gold Excellence "Sharpening Brand & Competitive Differentiation" marketing award, and he has earned honors from the BMA, AMA, and AAF-ADDY Awards.