Smarter Social Marketing

Posted by Gena Folts on Wed, May 25, 2011

FansToday, MITX hosted an event on improving success in social marketing by looking at your activity through the lens of a product launch. The panel of experts consisted of Stacey Howe, Global Digital Marketing & Brand Management at New Balance (giving the B2C viewpoint); Chip Terry, VP/GM of Product & Strategy at BzzAgent (giving the Technology/Media Perspective); Polly Pearson, President of Pearson Advisory with 9+ years experience at EMC (giving the B2B Perspective); and Tracy Stokes, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research and Former Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing at Timberland rounding out the panel as moderator.

All of the speakers sound impressive on paper, but they proved to be even better in person! They’re passionate about the subject, love to discuss and debate it, and each has the experience and creativity to bring something truly special to the table.

The discussion started off with a look at social marketing strategy during the pre-launch, launch, and measurement phases of a product launch, and then dove deeper into the details. The audience raised several really important questions, and the panelists offered great advice and insights. The event ended with Tracy Stokes asking each panelist to share his or her predictions for social marketing. Check out what the panel had to say:

Pre-Launch: So what should you be planning to do before your product comes out?
Stacey Howe talked about New Balance’s pre-launch strategy, explaining that customer experience is the focus of everything they do, so their social marketing reflects that goal. They constantly ask themselves “will this help give customers a great experience?” when planning. Pre-launch, therefore, is their time to start the conversation, correct any misinformation, and educate consumers on the product, to ensure the product will give a great experience.

Launch: How do you find an awesome community of advocates so that your launch is successful?
Polly Pearson talked about building a community of advocates by looking internally to your employees. Not only does this create an authentic group of voices singing the praises of your product, but it also has the added bonus of boosting morale internally. You can start by including employees in planning the strategy, giving them best practices, and then letting them spread the word.

Measure: How do you know if it was worth all the effort?
According to Chip Terry, the metrics you choose to measure should reflect your goals for the product launch. Some people want to increase awareness (so metrics like number of impressions or increased positive sentiment make sense), some want to interact with consumers (number of followers or fans is a good example) and others want to drive sales (harder to measure, but check out some great info from BzzAgent about how to use Market Mix Modeling to fit your needs).

When the Rubber Hits the Road
How do you position your launch to succeed using social marketing? According to the panelists, content is one of the keys. Brands are creating more content than ever before, and it can be as critical to your success as any other factor. Stacey Howe used New Balance as an example, saying that you should treat social media like great dinner conversation; by bringing interesting people and great information to the table, they are able to create even better conversation, which in turn attracts even more people who are already passionate about your topic.

Another important piece of advice for keeping your advocates engaged is to examine what motivates your biggest supporters. If you can find even a small budget to support those who are creating great buzz for you, it will have a ripple effect as you continue to make them happy customers.

Where is this all going?
According to the panelists, social marketing is going in the following directions:

  • Decision making is going to become more data-driven. -Chip Terry
  • Information will be served in bite-sized chunks. -Stacey Howe
  • The mediums will change, but the importance of social interaction will continue to rise. -Polly Pearson

So what are your predictions for social marketing? Continue the conversation on twitter using #MITX.