It has been a while since I published anything of consequence on my blog, so I plan on making up for it this evening.
I spent a wonderful holiday season staying home and hanging out with the family. We found a beautiful, 14 month old, female Labrador that came home with us a week and a half ago. We are both getting used to each other, but she is an absolute love and is fabulous with the kids.
We also spent a fantastic week in Steamboat Springs, CO skiing. I love Steamboat and want nothing more in life than to become a ski bum, no, a resort ambassador, providing tours, telling stories and skiing all day long with tourists and locals. It is a beautiful place with a fun, small town atmosphere, hidden away (with a big airport runway) in northwest Colorado. If Steamboat ever needs a big time, Interactive Marketer Ski Bum/Resort Ambassador - Call Me!!
Now back to my topic - Social Media - Yes; Interactive Marketing - More Yes!!
While I am an advocate and proponent for social media marketing strategies and tactics, we must not forget the importance of interactive marketing and all it encompasses. Social Media is a great way to interact with consumers, but a company or brand must still have a solid, high performing website where consumers can learn about products and services. Most corporate blogs and social media services (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, FriendFeed, and others) still only receive a subset (of brand specific interest, visits and/or clickthroughs) of the consumers that visit a typical, manufacturers branded web presence.
We must also remember that the branded website is one of the last places where the company or brand still controls the majority (if not all) the content and messaging.
There are many important ways to reach your consumers beyond social media: search marketing, email marketing, banner ads (in the right places), online sponsorships, basic natural search, and product/service and how-to videos (on your website and made available to your ecommerce partners). Also, as you develop and deploy traditional marketing strategies and tactics (TV, Radio, Print, Billboard, etc.) make sure they reference back to your branded website and preferably a landing page within the branded website that is specific to the campaign. I am not a big believer in micro-sites, as I believe the branded website needs to be the destination and needs to encompass or support micro-site features as part of the landing page within the branded website. Apple Computer uses this model and I am a strong believer. I think of how many times I was enticed to the Apple site due to a specific campaign, but ended up going to other parts of their branded website to learn about other products (latest iPod, iLife, MacBook, etc...).
Another key component to remember is metrics for both your social media and interactive marketing efforts. I personally have had very good experiences with several excellent, interactive marketing measurement tools including Omniture, WebTrends, Google Analytics and ForeSee Results. There are also many emerging tools for social media marketing and I will discuss those at another time.
There are also some excellent services that bring a true ROI to your branded website. Channel Intelligence is a great solution that helps you track your consumers from entry to your site through purchase on ecommerce partner sites. I call it an Advanced Where-to-Buy solution that all manufacturers should consider. Another service that integrates social media features into your website (Ratings & Reviews, Consumer Q&A, and Consumer Stories) is BazaarVoice. This is a great service that helps your consumers learn more about your products and services through peer reviews. It will also allow your product and service development teams learn what consumers like and do not like about your products and services. Excellent insights can be discovered quickly and with very little expense...also, by responding quickly to consumer issues, you can create brand advocates and strong word-of-mouth marketing impacts.
These are some of the topics I have been thinking about while on holiday and skiing. More to come in the future.