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It's All Or Nothing

Again and again I hear from clients about their fear of social media. (Yes, I do have a life outside of running a marketing podcast. The BeanCast really doesn't pay many bills around here.)

So here's just a sample of what I've heard:

Legal would never allows us to Tweet!
We could never allow our users to have their own Facebook page!
We would love to have a blog, but approvals are crazy!

And on and on.

Now before we get up on our high-social-media-we-know-better-than-you horses, though, let's consider what's being said here. These are all valid concerns. It's very easy for us on the outside to poke our high-minded ideals into their insular corporate world and say, "Trust us!" But where are the repeatable examples of success? Where are the case studies that show on-going value? Where is the proof that all of this won't collapse into litigation left in the hands of their inexperienced staff?

Sure, there are indications it works and in the hands of the right people social tactics can be tremendously successful. But we just don't have the rock-solid justifications yet.

My "New" Model

In thinking about all this today, it came to mind that I needed a graphic. I needed something simple to illustrate both how social media can be used and what each component of engagement activity represents. Because it occurred to me that there was no reason to sell social as an all or nothing model.

So this is what I came up with:

The premise of the model is incredibly simple. Because at it's core social marketing is no different from any interpersonal communication. We listen. We respond. And we tell. Brilliant, right?

But more importantly, this model establishes a few key insights:

Insight #1-Listening is the Foundation

Listening used to have a less appealing name on the Internet. It was called lurking. But even lurking is better than being clueless about what is being said about your brand. Even if there is no support for social media within your organization, you have absolutely no excuse not to be at least listening in to know what's working and what's not. And if you are building support, you can't go anywhere in the social space effectively without laying a foundation here.

Insight #2-Interaction Doesn't Have to be Online

There is no doubt that a public response to online challenges is preferred. After all, a public challenge is no longer just about the challenger, but includes everyone who is exposed to the challenge. They are all looking to see how you respond. But we understand the need for baby steps some times. So even if you take the response offline into more accepted channels, that's better than no respond at all.

Insight #3-You Can't Reach the Peak Without the Base

Everyone always seems to go to the peak first and talk about blogs and blogger outreach and videos and twittering and forum posts, etc. etc. But I say forget about it! If you are representing your brand, there's no good business case for me to make about you jumping into this space first. Maybe you're a natural. Maybe you'll do really well right out of the gate. More than likely, though, you won't. So concentrate on the first two layers of the pyramid first. Get established. Listen. Try your hand at responding. And pretty soon you'll see how the first two layers can feed the last one. After all, it's much better to write content you know your audience will appreciate, then to just do more one-way talking.

No Threat Here

It's funny, the more I write about this stuff, the more I realize that social marketing follows the same rules marketers have always espoused. There's nothing new here, except the venue. We're still talking about dialogue. We're still talking about engagement. We're still talking about responsiveness. So get back the basics, ignore the hype and see how all this fits into your programs. With a reasonable perspective you'll begin to see that social is not nearly the threat that it's perceived to be.

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