You can't just go and buy a social media program! And you certainly cannot be successful with a half hearted approach to social media either.
Five years ago, I had the opportunity to visit a boutique retailer - I went to their store to deisgn and personalize a bag that I use every single day. While they do accomodate 'men,' the store is primarily for women. Though I was intimidated going in, my experience in the store was amazing - I had about nine 'designers' offering me suggestions and only one of those people actually worked at the store.
I soon collaborated with this company to replicate that 'in-store' experience on the web. Their social media strategy was about engagement - it was about creating a dialogue amongst customers with occasional participation from employees.
Two years ago, a cataloger undertook an initiative to create a 'playground' for its consumers. This playground brought together multiple social channels and consumers. Their social media is replete with text, pictures, & video. Plus there is a contstant dialogue amongst consumers.
A financial institution is thinking ahead - they don't see the consumer coming into their branch, they see even fewer transactions at the ATM, but they would like to see their consumer almost everyday. So they have undertaken a 'revolutionary' (in banking circles) initiative that simply allows them to create communities of interest leveraging social media.
The consumers of all of these companies pay 'significant' attention to messages that the brand sends to them. Here are five lessons we can apply to our own social approaches:
1 - Build relationships first - that is what will help you drive a 'sale.'
2 - Create a community of interest and then join the community.
3 - Communities are grown - you invest time in them everyday.
4 - There is a difference between lecturing & facilitating on a community.
5 - Content is key to the success of your community.
You can do well by building your email & direct marketing programs off your social engagement strategy. Build relationships first, then strive towards 'selling the consumer.'