Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Social Marketing Campaigns: Lessons Learned

Dumplings on Gu Lou Da Jie, Beijing

Warm dumplings in a doorway. You pick up some, in a clear bag, and then everyone knows you have dumplings. They can smell them, see you carrying them, and the idea is born. Maybe they want some? The brilliant village-style social marketing campaign.

More and more companies are hoping to jump on the bandwagon of social marketing- Twitter, Facebook, viral marketing and blogging. I’ve been involved, as a writer and marketer, in some good campaigns and some not-so-good campaigns. And, here I will share… some of my frustrations bundled up as “lessons.”

Be highly suspicious of PR companies
An important tenet of social marketing is to be transparent and honest. PR companies are having a difficult time transitioning from a stealth role of being the masterminds behind customer communication to an honest conversation with super fans and evangelists. The extra layer, between a company and its customers (or potential customers) also doesn’t help. So many times some PR flack is having a hard time communicating to me the essentials of the campaign- why would people want to buy/talk/blog/twitter about this campaign? Mostly because, either they’re juggling 10 campaigns and they all seem the same, or they don’t really understand the blogger’s perspective.

Hire Fans, Not Writers
Writers write well, it’s true, and many fans suck at writing. But that doesn’t mean that a writer can copy the heart and soul of the fan’s perspective. As someone who has faked it, believe me it’s obvious to another true fan. Sure, writing is hard for some people, akin to doing taxes, but more and more, with the advent of microblogging and camera phones, concise, on the spot eyewitness reports are having a lot more sway than the carefully crafted PR message. This goes into the honesty and transparency aspects of social marketing. Take everyone’s favorite whipping boy Motrin Moms. If they had given that cartoon character a real personality, a real woman who has a newborn, a thousand missiles woudln’t have been launched against her insecurities. People can smell a rat.

Probably the worst side effect of hiring an agency: the timing is all off. Things to happen *all at once.* Zappos’ CEO doesn’t email a PR person to check his twitter before he posts it. The old days of publishing schedules and editors are gone. Sure, editors are great, but they need to either setup writing style guides that can free the writer for quick posting, or be online and ready to post the article 24×7. One client flubbed the viral aspect of the campaign because everything needed to be submitted a month in advance. But they still wanted Twitter/Friendfeed/etc. coverage as if it was happening at that moment (a month in the future). See: honesty, transparency. There are ways of keeping editors in the loop and not letting writers go completely renegade, but you’re really losing the momentum if you leave it up to 9-5 work schedules or editorial calendars.

Voice and PR Speak
I recently received an email from a PR person with my “welcome message.” Just the fact that it was 800 words, and a Twitter feed is 125 (some-odd) characters… was my first tip-off that they were out of their league. Also, the wording of a press release is an interesting beast. It does not compute to blogging nor any other kind of microblog format. I chuckle at some PR companies’ methods of writing hooks, too. Oh, that’s fascinating that this person moved on to another company. So back to #1, be very wary of PR companies.

Lastly, Compensation
Either pay them like a real writing job, by the word, or don’t pay them. You need to hire fans, and fans really want the access to you, as the company. Don’t make it so valuable that you’re going to lure non-fans. Make sure that the compensation matches the interests or specialties that you want. If you’re a food magazine, offer some access to foodiness. This is where you have to be wary of PR companies, because they will have a roster of writers they want to use, and you have to say no, you want fans. Not people who could be fans with the right motivation.

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Written on Tuesday, 24. February 2009 at 12:28 In the category campaigns, social networks. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Read the Comments. Trackbacks- Trackback on this post. Share on FriendFeed

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  1. [...] – better networking, marketing and sales success Social Marketing Campaigns: Lessons Learned – 02/24/2009 Dumplings on Gu Lau Da Jie, Beijing Warm dumplings in a doorway. You pick [...]

    Pingback: Articles about Viral Marketing as of February 25, 2009 | The Lessnau Lounge – 25. February 2009 @ 8:47 am

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