Think Small for Social Media Marketing Wins

I often tell my students "marketing is easy; marketers screw it up." The marketing concept itself is based on a rather simple notion that an organization should have dual pursuits of satisfying customers' needs and wants while meeting profitability and other internal goals. Another example of the simplicity of marketing is that there are really only two ways to add value to products or services:

  1. Increase benefits 
  2. Reduce sacrifices
I could discuss several other instances in which marketing decisions can be boiled down to straightforward considerations, but that is not the point of this post. The focus is how to not screw up one of the newest, shiniest tools in our marketing toolkit: Social media.

Ditch the Big Thinking
Strategic planning is often about thinking big- more market share, percentage increase target for profits, specific dollar or unit volume for sales. We hear about BHAG- big, hairy, audacious goals. Apparently, there is no room for small thinkers in marketing. When it comes to social media, that is simply untrue. Digital marketing expert Mitch Joel recently posted in his Six Pixels of Separation blog about "The Small Wins from Social Media." Joel points out that the "big thinking" mentality that governs most marketing organizations found its way into social media marketing strategy. How many "likes" can we get on Facebook? How many followers can we add on Twitter? Restaurants, retailers, and others have run promotions giving away product and offering price discounts in a quest to amass a large social media following. Never mind that little thought may be given to what to do with the audience once collected, let's just up those audiencenumbers!

Small Ball" Wins
To borrow a baseball analogy, think of social media marketing as having the same impact that a singles hitter has in baseball. The performance may lack the drama of a home run, but consistency in getting hits improves batting average and helps the team. According to Mitch Joel, small wins in social media include getting customers to talk about themselves (rather than a focus on talking about the product or company), using blogs to develop a repository of critical thinking (as opposed to product promotion), and using podcasts to network with thought leaders and other influentials. Reach-oriented goals (i.e., the home runs) that are the norm in mass media-driven marketing are not necessarily a good fit for social media campaigns. Instead, Joel advocates looking for the small wins, advances in customer relationships and brand equity that are not as quantifiable and may lack the "wow factor" compared to size of audience.

Figuring out how to use social media as part of the marketing mix can be a daunting challenge. Simplify it by thinking small- use social media to achieve small gains in customer relationships and competitive position.