I can guarantee you this, even if SMO Social Media Optimization doesn’t make sense to you now, you will be doing SMO as part of your future holistic online marketing strategy at some point, if you’re not the boat will be passing you by. For B2C it is strengthening brands, and building brand loyalty, and giving companies direct feedback, building a community of die hard consumers of their products and services.
For B2B it will be even more important as it gives B2B marketers the ability to have an “online global 24×7 trade show” with your target segment(s) on a personal level that can be very effective, esp. when you take into account that with the miracle of technology you can be building repoire/personal selling online with multiple prospects/repeat customer/fans simultaneously in different parts of the world, and reaching each group of people in the trade show with their own targeted interpersonal dialog. You might ask, “I don’t have time for social media, and my clients are busy and probably don’t either” but in the future that will change, and is changing, a large percentage of people now use facebook and or linkedin everybody and their grandmother literally is in facebook now, and guess what so is a good percentage of your target audience. Certain aspects to social media may not make sense to you right now, but as it evolves and matures twitter, stumble, digg, will make more sense as to how it matters to your online marketing, esp. as younger people join the workforce.
SMO Social Media Optimization is what SEO was 8 years ago. remember how it was easy to rank for all sorts of things 10 years ago and how it made you rich because you didn’t hesitate and did SEO as soon as you saw the value, right? Well SMO is basically at that same point but a couple years into it, in the future it will be harder to build networks of targeted prospects as people get tired of all the commercial pressure in their social network, there will be “Social Spam” it’s already happening, the time is now to master this new channel.
Social media is interesting as it overlaps and dovetails into SEO, online PR, Viral Marketing, and targeted B2B personal selling and prospecting. There are more ways then ever to reach your target audience and if you’re clever and have a plan the possibilities are limitless in terms of leveraging our connections with others to help us reach our online marketing goals. B2B marketing and sales with it’s traditionally unique challenges is particularly well suited for taking advantage of social marketing to help companies reach their targeted segment, beyond just simple contact of email, phone, snail mail, or trying to physically be in the right place at the right time i.e trade shows and conferences. Think of social media optimization as a 24×7 trade show where you get to mingle on a more personal level with your target audience online 24×7. In all phases of the sales cycle you can now gather sales intelligence that years ago we’d only dream of, for example. You could know the favorite football team of that big prospect, and that “his team” just one, and you send him a hat with his team logo on it with a note thanking him for time you spent in your first meeting etc. You could find out what the standard “uniform” is at your prospect’s place of business and not feel under or over dressed. You can get a feel for their personality type and know what sales approach and method of contact would be most natural for them, strictly facts no small talk, or someone that needs to go slow and easy and build up a strong connection first etc. You’ll know if perhaps someone close recently passed away, or their dog died last night, you’ll know then that is probably not the best time to call or drop in on them etc.
One thing is for certain, social media is here to stay and will continue to grow and be part of a well rounded online campaign, it might not lead to direct sales that you can easily measure, but it can drive sales indirectly by supporting and adding credibility and trust to your brand, something that is critical in today’s marketplace.