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Supplementing Social Media Marketing is Crucial to Success (Part 2.)

For the first part of this series, please see Supplementing Social Media Marketing is Crucial to Success (Part 1.)

In order to maximize return on any social media investment, it is critical to supplement the social campaign with alternative forms of media. Social media marketing campaigns can include a variety of components and platforms, but it is important to remember you can’t simply launch a social marketing campaign and assume your core audience will find you and engage in a conversation.

This sentiment was reiterated in a recent article in the Summer 2008 edition of Search Marketing Standard entitled Marketing on Facebook. In the article, SMS correspondent Grant Crowell interviewed Rodney Rumford- CEO/founder of FaceReviews & Gravitational Media. When asked about common mistakes of marketing on Facebook, Rumford cited a problem in the perception of marketers that “if I build it they will come”. Yes, there is a huge viral component involved with social media marketing; however, marketers still need to take steps to ensure their social campaigns are supplemented with other forms of media in order to fully capitalize on the social marketing opportunity.

Getting back to BMW’s social campaign surrounding a car customizer application, it is clear that supplemental marketing efforts were not a well thought out component of the social campaign, and this detracted from the overall performance of the campaign. BMW clearly fell into the common trap of thinking “we built it- they will come”, but this is not the case.

So what specific supplemental tactics could BMW have utilized to maximize the return on their social campaign? Here are a few ideas.

  • PPC Search Ads

After reading about this campaign in the press, I attempted to find the custom application, but I was not successful. For a very modest fee, BMW could have developed a small paid search campaign with terms like “BMW customizer”, “BMW Facebook page”, “BMW MySpace profile” etc… This would be very inexpensive as there would be virtually no advertiser competition on these terms. Ad copy should include calls to action such as “add us to your friends/become our fan” or “check out our new application” to encourage users to interact with the social profile and/or social campaign.

  • PPC Content Ads

The same keyword list running in the PPC search campaign should also be launched on the Google Content network. This will generate tons of free impressions, and more importantly, MySpace pages fall under the Google Content network, so text ads running within MySpace could direct users BMW’s MySpace profile (assuming this was one of the networks utilized). Click costs on the content network would likely be even cheaper than search clicks, and the high level of relevance related to seeing ads for BMW’s MySpace page when already in MySpace should help drive comparatively high click through rates for the Content Network.

  • Online Media

It also makes sense to invest in online media to drive additional traffic to a social profile, campaign, or application. It is unclear if BMW supplemented their social campaigns with display, but it is certainly a good idea. In addition to standard media buys with various targeting options, it is also worth investigating media buys that would run on the social sites themselves, which would also increase relevance, and therefore would hopefully also increase performance.

Social sites are constantly coming up with new advertising solutions as well. Case in point- Facebook’s new Social Ads which utilize the Facebook News Feed to serve hyper-targeted ads to relevant users. One unique targeting example would be the ability serve ads to users whose friends have recently engaged with the advertiser’s Facebook profile.

  • RSS Content Distribution

BMW had an opportunity to develop a short press release describing the campaign/custom social application that could be distributed to targeted audiences via RSS. The release should have several anchor text links pointing back to the profile page where the application resides. The anchor text should include copy like “BMW customizer application” or “BMW virtual joyride”. The RSS feed should also include a screen grab or short video of the application to maximize performance in terms of press release reads and the number of times the story is republished on blogs, forums, etc…

The RSS component is very cost-effective as well, and there are multiple benefits to this specific tactic. The RSS feed will drive traffic to the profile page, but in addition, there will now be several links out on the web that will point back to the profile page. The additional links will help gain SEO traction in the natural search results in the search engines, but the links will also help the profile pages show up higher in search results within social sites like MySpace and Facebook.

  • Friend/Fan Outreach

Another important tactic involves continuing the conversation with your core audience in the social space. If BMW is hosting their application on Facebook or MySpace, then a blast should be sent out to the fans/friends of the brand. In addition to telling fans and friends about the new customizer application and “virtual joyride”, the content on the profiles should be updated on a regular basis to encourage users to return. Every time an update is made, friends and fans should be notified. Some social sites will automatically inform users when profiles are updated, but this is likely not enough in most cases.

  • Blog Outreach

The blogosphere also offers a huge opportunity in relation to supplementing a social media marketing campaign. BMW had an opportunity to launch a blog outreach campaign in conjunction with the social media campaign/customizer application. Putting your ear to the ground to find out what bloggers think of your brand is helpful, but it isn’t enough. Bloggers can significantly influence thought, feeling, and general perception of a brand, particularly in the automotive category in which emotion plays such a large role in the perception of a brand. Cars could be considered more of an extension of an individual’s personality than a preference in transportation.

So if listening is not enough, what should BMW do? Reach out and initiate a conversation with the influential brand ambassadors in the blogosphere. Find out who is talking, select the most active and influential blogs, initiate a conversation, and provide something of value- even if it is just the right to use images of a new model on their site. BMW should also make sure that the conversation includes a quick pitch of the social app that BMW is promoting, as this will create awareness, drive traffic to the application, and will likely result in additional links back to the campaign which provides additional SEO benefits.

The list of supplemental tactics above is by no means all-inclusive. Each campaign has a unique set of goals and challenges. The most effective may to maximize the return on a social campaign is to develop a well planned, multi-faceted, integrated promotional strategy to supplement the efforts of the core social campaign. BMW clearly missed a big opportunity to maximize the return on their social campaign- so be sure not to make the same mistake.

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